Dinner and a chat: Mum’s selfless gesture for delinquents
WHEN Yeppoon mum Kylie-Anne Kyle saw a group of misbehaving youths "bad-mouthing" and being rude to locals at Coles on Tuesday night, she did something extraordinary.
Where most would turn away or avoid them, Mrs Kyle approached the group, and later that night, sat with them in her home over a Red Rooster dinner.
"I didn't have any fear or worry. I can't explain that. I just had this thing come over me and I thought now was the time to do something for our community," she said.
What unfolded that night would not only change the way Mrs Kyle saw Yeppoon's rising youth crime, but also the minds of the children, aged 11 to 17.
"There are many people in Yeppoon who are scared of these youths and I don't blame them," she said.
"I told (the youths) to 'knock it off' and things quietened down. I was frustrated and wondered 'where is the respect'? There clearly is none."
Mrs Kyle then decided to ask the group of six why they were there, why they weren't at home at 7.30pm on a Tuesday night, and whether they went to school.
She also asked whether they had eaten that day, with one boy replying that he thought he may have eaten the day before.
Mrs Kyle offered them a warm meal, which four of them (two boys and two girls) accepted, with one young boy saying "thank you, Aunty".
"It was very upsetting. Most of these children were from Townsville and a lot were from the crime scene up there as well," she said.
"One in particular has done juvi (juvenile detention) twice.
"Their answers were 'my mum is dead', 'my dad doesn't even know if I'm home', 'I don't have a home, I live with my friends'."
It was then that Mrs Kyle, who says she lived a "colourful life" herself in the past, decided to "explain a few facts" to the children, and let them know that life didn't have to be this way.
"Two of them said 'we know we are hated in this town' and I asked 'why do you think that is'?" she said.
"I said 'business owners work hard for their business and the life they lead. This is people's hard-earned money going into their business which you guys go vandalise and destroy. Of course people have some hatred towards you'.
"I told them 'you're going nowhere real fast' and that back in the day we didn't have to worry about locking up so much or if our homes would be okay while we slept.
"I said 'it's you guys who have put fear in the community'."
The reaction from the children was not what Mrs Kyle was expecting.
The four of them stared at her in silence with "the biggest, whitest eyes, in sort of disbelief'.
"They said 'I don't want to do this anymore'," she said.
"The eldest girl wants a car. She has her learners and can get her Ps but needs to pay for a car so she can get a job. She asked me what a resume was.
"She also said she didn't think she'd be able to get a job because of what she does and that nobody is there for her.
"I said 'I am always here'. It takes a village. They haven't had guidance at all. They're so uneducated and it comes down to the parents."
For Mrs Kyle, putting her trust in the group of youths was a test of faith, but one that proved to her that things can change and that with intervention and help from the community, there could be a shift within the youth culture.
"Everyone deserves a second chance. I believe more children should be aware there is help out there and there are people to help them, but I do worry about it being taken for granted," she said.
"But you have to start somewhere. If it fails, it fails, but at least the community has given it a go.
"I want to chat with them again and make a place on the main beach on a Thursday or Friday afternoon to buy them a couple of pizzas or fish and chips, play some games, have a laugh and ask them where their safe place is."
Mrs Kyle said she was blown away by the support of the Yeppoon Families community, who commended the mother on Facebook for helping out.
"When they left my home, the eldest girl gave me a hug and said 'thank you for listening to me'."