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On duty at police interviews

Rhonda is on call around the clock as a volunteer with one of our youth justice programs. She explains what inspires her to help young people going through tough times.

Volunteering provided Rhonda, a mother of three children, with an opportunity to do something for herself.

I have been a stay-at-home mum for 28 years. It wasn’t until my youngest of three graduated high school that I realised I didn’t have any work experience to put together a resume. I never looked into volunteering as I assumed all volunteering experiences involved a lot of sadness and remorse.

In 2016, I found my opportunity. I began volunteering with Red Cross in Adelaide in the Police Call Outs Program which supports young people aged 10 to 17 in police interviews. This program operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and has 50 to 60 volunteers.

We are all on call, either as a dispatcher or responder, where we act as a suitable person during a police interview if the young person’s parent or guardian is unable to attend. We do not provide legal advice, we are there to ensure the young person’s rights are respected and due processes are followed. Once the interview is over, we are not told the outcome.

As I have children who have lived a very privileged life, I volunteer to give back to those in need. When we receive a call, we never know what we’re going to get – some interviews go for 15 minutes, while others go for two hours. It really is a mixed bag.

My children are all supportive of what I do and are happy to see me doing something for myself. I think it’s good to show them that this is what you do in life.

There have been cases where the young person really has you wondering why they’re there in the first place. I’ve had one boy who wanted to be a lawyer when he was older; he said he just didn’t think. You realise children are so vulnerable and can be rather impulsive.

Sometimes I think, if I can get through to just one kid, I have done my job.

My children are all supportive of what I do and are happy to see me doing something for myself. I think it’s good to show them that this is what you do in life.

I am a firm believer things come to you if it’s meant to be. I am grateful to Red Cross for being supportive and assisting me every step of the way. I hope my story inspires others to volunteer and take action in supporting our local communities.

This program operates in South Australia only.

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