The walls are high, the security is tight – locks, guards, security codes.
I’ve entered the world of Sunning Hill Education in the Juniperina Juvenile Justice Centre (JJJC).
The teachers are welcoming and professional. Their goal is to give these girls vocational and social skills so that they won’t have to be incarcerated again.
I am given a serious induction session- the security and the way it operates.
I have the privilege of being in the staff meeting where the weekend reports are read out and discussed – this young offender was unsettled, that young offender had to be subdued, privileges are removed, Sunday afternoon had no events.
I am taken through locked hallways, across the courtyard to the lecture room. It’s modern with book posters including ‘That’s Why I Wrote This Song’ and ‘Butterflies’ on the wall and a display of books for the girls to read. I am only allowed to bring in my books.
There are 6 teachers-staff-security present as the 15 teenage girls are brought in.
My Book Week talk is one hour about search for identity, the journey of writing with my daughter Tory, ‘That’s Why I Wrote This Song’ and meeting challenges through ‘Butterflies’.
The girls look down, some look at me and so begins a very special hour sharing story and life.
My heart goes out to these girls, because they are just girls like my daughter.
I am glad to be part of this day. I am glad there is an education facility with the Juniperina Juvenile Justice Centre.
I hope I have touched even a few of these girls, as I want them to have a life where they can pursue their dreams.
They deserve that.
I appreciated this special experience.