New views: Young Rocky boys change tune of city's cops
POLICE were never the enemy for Rockhampton teenagers Montell Oram and Justin Bray but they weren't exactly friends either.
To them, cops meant they were in trouble. They only saw the strict man in uniform, their eyes were shut to what the officers' extended role in the community was.
Over the last six months, their eyes have been opened up, thanks to a government program for young people doing it tough - Project Booyah.
The pair graduated from the six-month mentoring program yesterday as better people and ready to chase their goals.
With certificate two in hospitality and a positive change in attitude, they were two of seven from Rockhampton to complete the program.
They said their entire outlook to police officers has evolved.
"Us and police were not really friends. They definitely weren't someone you thought you could approach," Montell said.
"Not someone you could go up to and speak to about your problems. Now we feel like we could do that.
"The officers we have been working with, we consider them friends now. They taught us so much, gave us confidence and respect.
"And to believe in ourselves and never give up."
Armed with their new skills, the boys will re-join the classroom determined to stay on the straight and narrow.
They now value their education.
"I didn't care about school and never really tried," Glenmore State High School student Justin said.
"I knew I had to go but it was more about going there to socialise.
"This program has shown us that education is important.
"We can now set goals and never give up on them. I want to become a diesel fitter."
Acting inspector Ian Frame is one of the program's pioneers and said it was a great milestone for the boys.
"I know the challenges and boundaries we set were physical, emotional and mentally challenging," he said.
"535 young Queenslanders have gone through this and what they did was first class.
"They can put their hands up knowing they had the courage to ask for help and now know they have the internal fortitude to know they have the skills to go forward."