For most of my adult life I have had the great pleasure of working with young people; on the streets of Sydney and Brisbane; in the juvenile detention centres; in the Royal Australian Navy and in schools across two states. I say pleasure because young people are open, honest, sometimes a little too honest, quick to cut through the superficialities to the real questions.
And they won’t be put off by adult posturing and pretence. They can sense when you are fair dinkum.
A year 9 student recently lost his father unexpectedly. He is doing it tough. He came to see me, and after some discussion, I looked him in the eye and said, ‘ I would be lying to you if I said what happened will ever get better. It won’t. You will just get better at handling it.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Thank you for saying that. I needed to hear that.’ He was looking for a love or respect that was real, hard and true.
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