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Local News

Youth engagement helping to combat crime in the Tweed



Tweed-Byron Police District Superintendent Dave Roptell

Youth engagement helping to combat crime in the Tweed


By Sarah Waters

New recreational facilities in the Tweed have helped to decrease youth crime in the Shire.

Last Friday, Tweed-Byron Police District Superintendent Dave Roptell, attended the opening of the Shire’s new youth recreation area at Jack Evans Boat Harbour.

Dave Roptell said the new space, designed for families and young people, fostered a positive community environment.

“We get down here on a daily basis and engage with people in the park – we move people on that need to be moved on – but people are just generally here having a good time,” he said.

“Like anywhere it’s always good for us to be around, to be seen and to engage, but having a park like this for families to congregate with their young ones is always something that is great for the local community.”

Mr Roptell has been widely recognised for his efforts in youth crime prevention.

In his previous role he worked as the NSW Police Youth and Crime Prevention Commander.

Tweed-Byron Police District Superintendent Dave Roptell

Tweed-Byron Police District Superintendent Dave Roptell

He has played a key role in enhancing and implementing youth diversionary programs throughout his career.

When it came to addressing youth crime locally, he said police took an active approach and there were a number of different programs in place to prevent at-risk young people from going down the wrong path in life.

“When we do have youth crime, we address it appropriately,” he said.

“We review it weekly; we follow up on engagements… people who need to be spoken to are and we make sure we are right across it.

“Some of them (at-risk youth) come from not the best family life and that’s something that is out of our control and we’re not going to be able to save everyone, but what we can do is be mentors, be role models and actually show that we care.”

At-risk youth in the community are offered the chance to turn their life around through programs offered at Tweed Heads PCYC (Police Citizens Youth Club).

Mr Roptell has been highly involved in the PCYC’s Fit For Life early intervention program, which has been designed for youth aged 10 to 17 who are at risk of poor choices and anti-social behaviour.

The basketball key, which is part of the new youth recreation area at Jack Evans Boat Harbour in Tweed Heads - Dave Roptell

The basketball key, which is part of the new youth recreation area at Jack Evans Boat Harbour in Tweed Heads.

Through physical fitness, including free weekly boxing classes, nutrition and social engagement, the program aims to improve overall wellbeing and prevent/divert youth from offending behaviours.

Positive role models, including players from the Gold Coast Suns and Brisbane Broncos also come down and engage with young people.

Mr Roptell has been able to share his love of sport with the young residents who attend the program, which has helped to break down barriers, build trust and empower youth.

He said Fit For Life was one of many programs offered at Tweed Heads PCYC which has an incredibly positive impact on young people.

“They can see that we (police officers) are humans, and we have that side to us where we would actually rather help them.

“It is something that is open to the whole community and all kids, not just ones that are at-risk.”

Meanwhile Tweed MP Geoff Provest said he volunteered with the local police once a week.

He often speaks to young people who have told him if they didn’t have access to recreational facilities, including basketball courts and sports fields, they would instead get into trouble.


For more Tweed Shire news, click here.

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Clarence Valley News

Community group’s council audit delayed





Community group’s council audit delayed


By Tim Howard

A community group supposedly the target of a Clarence Valley Council audit in February 2024 over the cost of its interactions with council has pointed out the audit has not been completed. The General Manager, Laura Black commented, “I anticipate it will take a couple of months.”

The secretary of Yamba Community Action Network (YambaCAN), Lynne Cairns, said this week’s council business paper included a report, Council Meeting Checklist – update on actions taken.

The report revealed staff had not completed the action, the result of a council resolution at the February 2024 council meeting.

“On page 175 of the business paper there is a note next to the item,” Ms Cairns said.

“It reads: ‘Staff responsible for collating information have been diverted to prepare and respond to legal action taken against council by an executive member of YambaCan’.”

Ms Cairns said this was incorrect as no-one on the YambaCAN executive had taken legal action against the council.

She was aware of some matters concerning the council a member of YambaCAN had taken to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

“These matters were not matters concerning YambaCAN and the member who brought them was not acting for YambaCAN,” Ms Cairns said.

“I’m concerned this is some disinformation that somehow YambaCAN is responsible for delaying council’s investigation of its actions.

“YambaCAN is requesting an apology from council for the incorrect information in the business paper.”

The resolution read: that the general manager advises, by way of a report the:

1. allocation of resources required to respond to GIPAs submitted by YambaCan since January 2022.

2. allocation of resources required to respond to RFI (Request for Information) submitted by YambaCan since January 2022.

3. any cost implications of delays to delivering the Yamba Community Precinct project since January 2022.

The matter was passed 5-4, but debate was fiery.

Cr Karen Toms brought it as a notice of motion to alert the public to the costs the group’s GIPA requests and requests for information were incurring.

But other councillors said these costs were part of council operating openly and transparently.

Cr Greg Clancy was concerned the motion focused on just one group when council records showed it was responsible for a fraction of the requests.

“As seen in the listing of GIPA applications on council’s website, there are 22 GIPA applications and only six of these refer to YambaCAN,” he told the February meeting.

He also revealed YambaCAN had lodged a request for information, however were informed that there were 290 requests for information previously lodged by others that were waiting to be processed.

Ms Cairns was concerned that with the council going into caretaker mode on August 16, ahead of the September local government elections, council could not effectively decide on the matter.

There will be report on the outcome of this matter and other matters at council in next week’s edition of The Northern Rivers Times.


For more Yamba news, click here.

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Grafton News

South Cup rising to top in July




South Grafton Cup Winner

South Cup rising to top in July


By Tim Howard

The South Grafton Cup has risen to challenge the Grafton Cup and Ramornie Hcp as the leading races at the Grafton July Racing Carnival says CRJC executive officer Michael Beattie.

Beattie said the numbers showed that since the race became a qualifying event for the Big Dance, South Cup Day was now a legitimate third big day for the carnival.

He said the South Grafton Cup winner, Cepheus, came to the carnival with a benchmark rating of 106 points, while the Grafton Cup winner was rated 105.

“It means the highest benchmark rated horse that race at the carnival, would show, from a technical perspective, that the South Grafton Cup has become the strongest race,” he said.

Beattie described the change as “very positive” and indicated the carnival was developing away from a two big day event to a carnival with three main days.

He was also excited at the number of big metropolitan stables sending teams to the carnival.

“You’ve got the likes of Chris Waller, Peter and Paul Snowden, Chris Lees, Chris Munce, Annabelle Neesham,” he said.

“You’ve got this depth right through the carnival when these people are supporting its major events.”

Beattie said from a racing purist’s perspective the Grafon Cup winning ride of Blake Shinn on Deny Knowledge turned a good race into a great one.

“It was a sensation race and made better by one of the best tactical rides you’ll ever see to win a Grafton Cup,” Beattie said.

“I suppose the best jockey in the race was on the best horse in the race, but he gave the best ride in the race.

“By the time the race got to the 1200m it was the end of the penny section, because he had outmanoeuvred them all.”

Beattie said the result in Ramornie was also a pleasing outcome that could have been unfortunate.

“He suffered severe interference mid-race, Ka Bling, and if he had been beaten, would have had a real hard luck story,” he said.

“He was able overcome that interference and still pick them up and beat them, so it was one of those situations you love to see.

“In fact I think it was great that all three winners in the Grafton Cup, Ramornie and South Cup were the best horses in the race on the day.”

Beattie said that away from the racing the carnival was a highly successful social occasion with good crowds enjoying a friendly atmosphere.

He said the development of Grafton Cup Day’s Fashions on the Field into a signature event attracting people in its own right was the result of careful planning.

He said the South Cup and Grafton Cup days once shared fashion events, but a decision to focus on Grafton Cup Day as the fashion day was working.

“A few years ago we asked our customers, especially female customers, and they indicated to us that that situation wasn’t suitable to them,” Beattie said.

“Their view was the biggest fashion day should be Grafton Cup Day and I think it’s telling that it’s getting bigger and better from a participation perspective.”
Beattie said it was too early to say turnover the five days of racing generated, but the raw figures suggested not a lot of difference from last year.

“In this economic climate, to be holding your own, is a situation not a lot of racing clubs would emulate,” he said.

He said the club would not be sitting on its laurels and there would be a debrief and assessment of what worked and what needed to improved.

“Overall I would say what we planned and put in place seemed to work,” he said.

“But you always have to try and make things a little bit better each year.

“We’ve extended the members’ area over the past few years and the popularity of that’s been amazing.

“So when the dust settles we’ll have a bit of a review and see what things we can change for the future.”


For more sports news, click here.

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Grafton News

Hit and run raid secures Cup




Grafton Cup Winner

Hit and run raid secures Cup


By Tim Howard

Star jockey Blake Shinn’s hit and run raid on Grafton’s July Racing Carnival has netted him a third Grafton Cup.

Shinn showed why he is rated one of the country’s top riders, piloting Pride of Dubai mare Deny Knowledge to the lead in the $200,000 Listed Grafton Cup (2350m), galloping home strongly to win by three quarters of length.

Backed into $2.45 favouritism, the Irish born galloper did not have it all her own way, with the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Touristic piling on the pressure in the home straight. The Chris Waller runner Thalassophile was a distant third.

Shinn had kept enough in reserve and Deny Knowledge powered her way to the line.

The Victorian-based rider, who had flown into town just for this race, said he had confidence in the horse from the time she paraded.

“I thought she paraded really, really well, better than last time,” Shinn said in a post race interview.

“Therefore her manners out on the track and in the race were perfect and I was able to put her where I wanted to be in that first two furlongs, which set the race up nicely for the last part.”

Grafton Cup Jockey

Grafton Cup winning jockey salutes the crowd as he rides back to scale after a masterful ride on six-year-old mare Deny Knowledge to secure the cup for a third time.

During the race Shinn made the most of his ride’s abilities.

“She’s a natural leader and at 24(00-metres), we may have been a little suspect,” he said.

“If I was going to burn the candle at both ends it was going to be hard and the pressure in the first 300 was quite quick, so there was an opportunity to drop in and rest around that first turn.

“When they backed off, I made a decision to roll to the top and get her into a zone where she loves to be, and once I was able to find the top, I was confident a long way out.”

It is 11 years since Shinn’s first Grafton Cup win on the Ciaron Maher-trained Mr O’Ceirin.

He won again for Gai Waterhouse two years later on Bonfire.

It was Deny Knowledge’s second start for the Yulong stable where she is trained by Melbourne Cup winning duo Anthony and Sam Freedman.

Purchased at the recent Magic Millions for $500,000, she repaid her new owners $109,000 with her win last Thursday.

Deny Knowledge’s track rider Henry Jaggard accepted the trophy from the CEO of race sponsor Westlawn Finance, Mark Dougherty.

Deny Knowledge hits the line to win the $200,000 Westlawn Finance Grafton Cup from Touristic in second spot.

Deny Knowledge hits the line to win the $200,000 Westlawn Finance Grafton Cup from Touristic in second spot.

He revealed the six-year-old’s good manners trackside and during the race were a fairly recent development.

“She’s definitely a temperamental horse, but she’s worth working with,” he said.

Jaggard said he ride all her track work and has been building a relationship with the horse since she came into the stable.

“She’s a proper athlete,” he said. “That doesn’t make her easy to get on with, but any trainer would like to think they can get the best out of her.”

He said though she was not built like a traditional stayer, she was going to become a very valuable horse for the Freedmans.

Her winnings from her last two starts have taken her prize money close to the $1 million mark with an overall record of eight wins and eight placings from 34 starts.

Jaggard said Deny Knowledge also had promise as a brood mare and was not sure how long her racing career might continue.

“There are some races coming up for her in the spring, so we’re concentrating on those,” he said.

The final race on the program, the $75,000 Sir James Kirby Quality (1000m) provided a fitting end to a high quality day’s racing.

Compelling Truth scored a slashing victory enhancing his credentials for The Kosciusko, coming up in in October.

The Mack Griffith-trained galloper overcame an awkward start to power home, beating Bomarea by nearly four lengths with Immoral further back in third.


For more local Grafton news, click here.

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