When a person becomes “criminally minded”, the circumstances that brought them to that place are many, varied and complicated. No one is ever truly out of reach of help but once a person thinks like a criminal they can usually see no options apart from the “easy” way out. Mental illness of any degree plays a huge role in shaping how someone deals with any given situation.

If you’re someone that says lock ’em up or #@$@ them, they’re only crims, you probably have no room to entertain the idea of rehabilitation. If that is the case then all I can say is if you don’t help John Smith correct himself he may just rob your house next saturday – or when he gets out of prison.

The alternate and true view is get to the heart of why John Smith is breaking the law and see if he wants to change and offer him the support he needs to make that change.
It hurts to be the victim of crime. It hurts more to be a victim of crime and then to watch it continuing to happen to others in your community.

You as an individual may not be able to be a primary source of support to those who need to change but your voice in saying you want to see it happen is the next best role you can play.

We are lucky to have organisations that are willing to do the work in the area of helping people get their lives back on track but without money and support(from the community), they are fighting a losing battle.

Whose problem is that? Mine and yours. It pays to have an investment in our community well being.

I’ve been both sides of the fence-offender and victim of crime-and it beats me how not investing in people to turn their lives around is so prevalent in our society. It can appear to go away if we don’t worry about it – UNTIL John Smith robs your house next Saturday night. Then we have an opinion. Nearly everyone who reads this has had someone they care about break the law. A lot will have seen that person correct themself. How? Because you, their loved one, came beside them and supported them during the difficult time of trying to walk the “straight and narrow”.

To write people off is to have it reflected right back on yourself when they live up to your low expectations.

I came full circle only because I had the support I needed at the time I put my hand up – AND because I wanted to change.

Three things remain ever entwined, Homelessness, criminal behaviour and mental illness. None of them will be solved unless the others are addressed and solved.

*Steve Menadue was addicted to the pokies for over 30 years. “I am now free of them. I am driven to help get rid of these things for those who are still under their spell and especially for those who never go near a machine. This should not be a political argument.” Steve is steve pokiesgone on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=steve%20pokiesgone