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Byron Shire
May 26, 2024

Eshay-style thugs heading nowhere without intervention

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The disused railway tunnel near Mullum has become a party venue in recent times, with reportedly large piles of bottles and rubbish accruing. Photo from 2014 by Eve Jeffery
The disused railway tunnel near Mullum has become a party venue in recent times, with reportedly large piles of bottles and rubbish accruing. Photo from 2014 by Eve Jeffery

Hans Lovejoy & Eve Jeffery

A serious community problem has been bubbling away in the north of Byron Shire.

The end result – from past experience – will be that some local young men will become sad statistics: dead, drug addled or in jail.

If you’ve driven around the Ocean Shores area lately you may have noticed the OSB (Ocean Shores Boyz), YTB (Yelgun Tunnel Boyz) and SGB (South Golden Beach Boyz) graffiti/tagging and wondered what it was all about?  

Who is doing this and why? Every couple of weeks, Council pays to have the street-sign graffiti removed but it just keeps coming back.  

These tags are a cry for help from Our Saddest Boys, who are now on the edge of manhood with insufficient support and guidance.

Sadly, the boys have not learned social behavioural boundaries; few of the boys have had a male role model available to help them take their place among men in the local community.

By stealing and assaulting as a group, these unguided boys have found a way to feel powerful and worthy.

During this year’s Byron Schoolies, several of the youth gang members were identified on Main Beach, Byron Bay, starting fights and harassing schoolie revellers.

The local OSB youth gang appear to model themselves  after the so-called Eshay movement, which is found in larger population centres around Australia.

Byron Youth Service response

Senior youth worker and program co-ordinator at the Byron Youth Service (BYS), Deb Pearse, says there is little for young people to do in the Byron Shire when many of the resources are focused on tourism.

‘How can a single parent seeking work, a home and an education for their children survive?’ she asks.

‘The focus on tourism, dwindling funding, the lack of resources to reach young people in need and the difficulty of bridging the gap with parental involvement creates a breeding ground for negative behaviours, which significantly impacts on the community, other young people, schools and parents.’

Pearse says that over the past 18 years, there is an issue that emerges again and again in different localities and within different ‘tribes’ of young people.

‘While we tend to focus on the current issues, it’s what lies beneath, what keeps creating these conditions that’s important. What these young people mainly have in common is a lack of positive male role models, neglect, anger and a feeling that their “territory” is not their own.’

Pearse says the BYS has a model for a First Referral Program, which would significantly address the ‘warning signs’ and provide a means by which high-risk young people are subject to an intervention.

She says it would not only benefit the community, but provide a pivotal point at which appropriate support and a positive change in direction can occur.

‘Right now, we need funding to get this new program off the ground as well as extend our current Street Cruise outreach program to the whole of the Shire.’

Mullum High School response

Mullum High School principal Donna Pearson told The Echo that the school’s Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PD/H/PE) curriculum and its welfare and discipline code ‘certainly teach the importance of self-respect and respectful behaviour’.

‘In addition, students have access to a number of significant school and outside- agency wellbeing programs including the Chrysalis Girls Program, Crossroads, Young Men’s and Young Women’s group, Rock and Water Program and RRISK Seminars.  

‘We are aware of community issues and our staff use that knowledge in how they encourage students to behave appropriately and be respectful to others in and out of school.

‘To address the issue, the community needs to invest in getting these boys the help and guidance they need.

‘The younger boys below 15 that are modelling the Eshay behaviour need the full attention of parents, schools and the community.’

Police response

Detective Chief Inspector Brendon Cullen told The Echo that police are aware of a group of youths who have a collective title of South Golden Beach Boys.

‘However, what police have observed is that this group of youths are little different from any other group of youths who congregate together socially.

‘The group is unorganised and lacks any lines of authority. The group does not display the characteristics of an unlawful gang as such. It would be false to label these youth as a crime gang.

‘Police in the local area are well aware of the youths that have been alleged to be causing trouble and have spoken a number of times to them and their parents.

‘There have been very few crime incidents reported to police attributable to these youth.

‘I am aware of one alleged assault, however; the victim to this day has refused to provide police with a statement.

‘This makes our job significantly more difficult as we can only take action for alleged crimes where those crimes are reported to us.

‘In most recent times, in particular Australia Day, police have interacted closely with these youths and their parents. There were no incidents reported to police.

‘We closely monitor anti-social and criminal behaviour in all areas of the Tweed Byron LAC  including the Brunswick Heads, Mullumbimby and Byron areas.

‘Very little has been reported to police in relation to youth violence in these areas.’

Support available

Parents have told The Echo they have learned the hard way not to host large gatherings for their teens’ birthdays because OSB gang members have in the past showed up and ‘punched on’ – starting fights, intimidating and robbing others.

The Echo understands most of the boys’ ages range between 15 and 18 and they no longer attend high school, but still live with their mums in the Ocean Shores/SGB areas.  

Hopefully the community will alert the parents of these young men of the effect their children are having on others and offer them the help needed to change the destructive path these young adults are on.

Another established local program is Pathways To Manhood.

It’s a contemporary, community-based rite of passage, where boys aged 13 to 15 years and their fathers (or a male mentor) camp in the bush for five days.

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  1. I am glad to see that the issues of youth ‘gangs’ around Byron Shire are finally getting some airing in local media, with this article from the Echo. I had real trouble with this group of boys during Schoolies, swaggering into the park, and bullying and beating-up other young people, even hearing one of these boys one night actually stating that he was “only here to fight”. I have had many conversations with concerned parents, whose teens have been set upon by this group, and we are talking about serious assaults, and after having been contacted by one such parent, whose son was severely beaten at a gathering at the Yelgun tunnel, I did try to pull together a meeting between local youth services, Mullum High, Police and concerned parents late last year, but my request was refused, pretty much across the board (other than from the parents), with no-one wanting to take any responsibility to take on this group. I was told that the Police did however track some of these boys down, and have meetings with them and some of their parents, to try to address the issue.
    Police are reticent to call these boys a ‘gang’, but if a big group of teens gathers together regularly, to target other youths with violence and acts of thuggery and thefts, then what else would you call them? Of course both parents and teens who have been victims of this group are too scared to go to the Police, out of fear of reprisals. The whole of Ocean Shores and South Golden Beach have had to stop any parties for their young people, out of fear that this group will turn up, as they have done for the last few years, and create havoc. The same has also happened to very well organised music events across the shire and even events out at Main Arm, where these boys have turned up, set upon others and destroyed property, stolen phones etc. This is gang behaviour, no matter what the police say, even if they are only teens.
    It is incredibly sad, that as is so often the case, and especially so during schoolies, the worst behaviour around here, is actually coming from local youth. But, there is so little to nothing for them to actually DO here, particularly in the evenings, and it is actually BOREDOM that has been determined through countless studies, to be the biggest issue, in young people taking up drinking alcohol and using drugs and yes, also engaging in activities of the sort seen with this local group. When are we going to see genuine night-time activities for the young people of Byron Shire become an actual priority here? I tried! For years I gave my Friday nights to creating youth music events at the YAC and had so little support from the community, that we could no longer afford to run this program. It’s time that a real focus and real funding was put into our local youth and yes, give them something to bloody do at nights!!! Seriously!!
    I am still waiting for a local philanthropist, who might like to actually make a difference with their money, to take up the offer to be of assistance with our local youth! I grew up in a country town, where we had skating rinks, ten pin bowling, amusement parks and amusement centres with pool tables, pin-ball and electronic gaming, a slot car racing centre, and a PCYC where we had Blue Light Discos, school holiday programs (that actually catered for high school ages too) and shitloads of stuff for teens to do… What of these does Byron Bay have? NONE!!! Know someone with a bit of money and a community spirit who might be interested in creating something for the future youth of Byron? Send them my way, I have millions of ideas that could put their money to very good use!

  2. I believe that the lack of self expression and creativity is the main problem for many young people. Also articles of this kind can do more harm than good causing further rifts between different areas of the community.

    Maybe the council could possibly assist in funding a Youth Centre at the community halls on particular nights – with a range of interesting & functioning activities. Creativity being one of them. If they have sprays then supply cardboard to spray on – we may just find the next Banksy in Ocean Shores!

  3. “These tags are a cry for help from Our Saddest Boys, who are now on the edge of manhood with insufficient support and guidance.

    Sadly, the boys have not learned social behavioural boundaries; few of the boys have had a male role model available to help them take their place among men in the local community.

    By stealing and assaulting as a group, these unguided boys have found a way to feel powerful and worthy.”

    Thoughtfully and well written article. Thank you!

  4. I have worked all my life teaching outdoor education and skills to young people including young people at risk of offending. I work freelance in the region, throughout Australia and also take young people on month long overseas trips to developing countries involving jungle or mountain trekking and community projects. The limiting factor with this is we mainly work with young people from backgrounds that can afford it. There are never funds available for young people until it is too late and they are already in trouble.
    I have seen many young people over the years steadied up by working with positive role models in challenging and sustained outdoor programmes but it is relatively costly, except of course compared to the costs to society when they become criminals and then they are very expensive.
    This region has many very good outdoor providers and outdoor professionals and fantastic locations. There is no mystery to it, working in the outdoors especially with young men mimics what has happened for thousands of years in tribal societies.
    There is no shortage of ideas that will work, but it will never happen until programmes are well funded and long term.

  5. These boys are drug addled, entitled, full of arrogance and cowardly violence with a pack mentality. Many of them are kids of surfers, whose fathers only ive for the next wave in ‘their territory’ abd do violence to others who like to catch waves on ‘their beach’. The kids learnt their behaviour from their drug addled surfer fathers, many of whom are small time drug dealers, and their peers all reflect the same toxic behaviours, caught in an echo chamber. They derive their sense of identity thriugh evil acts, pre meditated and executed professionally. I find the general response as pathetic. These kids can’t be reasoned with, saved or cajoled into being ‘good kids’. They never had a chance with the surf drug culture and territorial notions.implied within the surfer tribe.

    It’s probably time for.some vigilantes justice to put them in their place, that actually is the role of elders in traditional.Indigenous communities. The softly sofly approach with these kids, just doesnt work and makes a mockery of parents and police, the kids laugh at the weakness and see it as an accomplishment.that they fluster parents and police These kids are sociopaths and psychopaths, simple. The best place for a coward to see their reflection, is with their neck under the boot of a man that is integrated within their own masculinity, standing up for their community to be free from violence, intimidation, and this petty sort of small town coastal evil, that is so, so common along Australias beautiful coastal towns.the only long term solution is that they move out of the area, and the only way to do that is to, make them leave. The power of a whole community, is greater than a pack of wolves looking for the next little lamb to eat.

    So time for some real men to step up, dole out the punishment, and put them.in their place. Under a very hard boot. They will quickly.get the message that their behaviour is.unacceptable.and they will either leave the area, or end up in jail. At least the community would be free violence, intimidation and petty evil. Traditional problems have traditional solutions.

  6. What can I say? Male role models?Youth workers try but youth workers wether by design or some weird magic are predominately female.So when do the males enter the Frey?… almost never ..Anyway beating up these kids is not the answer …it’s quasi Neanderthal and blaming surfers is almost as bad as blaming Donald Trump..perhaps coaches from the cricket footy clubs could go there and sign up the lads for AFL league and football..possibly some of the great local musicians could create a band from them maybe they can tag T shirts and make money and art..they need a venue a purpose..They won’t go to a winky pinky venue run by middle aged women.. that’s what they are escaping from… There are many male role models that will give and do give their time freely… perhaps the council should employ a few that may be a start ..But ultimately the community has to take it on ..that means you and me… if I lived in ocean shores I would toddle down there risk a mugging check it out..these guys are just bored..but it needs addressing..that’s for sure..

  7. Wondering what were you hoping to achieve with your name, shame and BLAME piece in the echo about the SGB boys? I am a parent of one of the SGB boys and I can tell you that your article caused quite a shit storm in an already shitty storm. I’m assuming your intentions were well meant but trust me the fear of how this ends is very real for all the parents I know involved. The parents I know are all very aware of what is going on contrary to what your article insinuates at every blamey turn. There is already enough blame thrown around when you are parenting a child like this.

    It starts early, so when should we start blaming? Do we blame the public school system that is understaffed and under resourced and are left with few cards to play but suspension (woo hoo more days off for taking days off)? How about the pesky private school system who can’t afford to welcome kids like this in because they rely on fee paying parents and a high reputation to stay afloat? Do we blame the early intervention team for mis-diagnosing underlying issues, over diagnosing or diagnosing too late? Do we blame a local culture that looks down on behavioral labels, when parents simply calling a spade a spade are blamed for failing to see that their kid is “special”? Do we blame the labels for making the kids feel bad? Do we blame the ever changing nutritional strategies for behavior management? Or the food culture that is addicted to sugars and additives and pretty packaging that undermines every effort you make anyway? Do we blame the single mums and the absent fathers? Or do we blame the society that doesn’t support those mums and dads to make it through the tough years of raising young kids and the even tougher years of raising “problem” kids? Do we blame the Byron culture that encourages individualism, following your bliss and seeking your new and more sparkly tribe even when this undermines the family unit? Do we blame the open drug use amongst many parents in this area? Do we blame the parents of these parents for raising drug users? Do we blame the parents who are too authoritarian? Or those parents trying to be their kids friends? Do we blame the parent who says no to the behaviors at the risk of being labeled “absent”? Or the parent who enables them because there seem to be so few alternatives? We tried Pathways to manhood and it was amazing but hey he’s still a wanna be gangster so should we blame them too? Should we blame all the high school intervention programs and amazing youth workers who still couldn’t fix this? Do we blame a society that pays top dollar for a designer dress and f-all for social services (might be an okay place to start!)? Do we pin it on the local cops who struggle to come when you call but are serving a ridiculously broad geographical and social spread? Do we blame social media, porn, video games and violent movies? Do we blame the ex spouse, the current spouse, the other “gang members” parents? Do we blame the ghettos of SGB and the burrows of Ocean shores? Do we blame it all? We sure as shit blame ourselves.

    Or do we offer a solution and say this sounds like a bloody horrible situation for our community to be in? Do we offer these kids jobs, guidance, mentoring? Do we offer these families compassion, understanding and support? Or do we just write long blamey articles in the local newspaper that offer a simplistic look at a much more systemic and complex issue and add more shit to a shitty situation for these kids and their families. And no I’m not putting my name on this, apparently the lynch mob is being sent our way anyway, no need to give them and their pitch forks a more direct route. I can tell you that those of us living in the ghettos with our SGB boys are dealing with enough fear, shaming and judgment as it is.

    • Hi Hans and Eve, Nicole, Baylee, Jac, Jen, Jodi, Pete, Donny, Andy, Sarah and SGB Ghetto Mum …and Deb Pearce, Donna Pearson and Brendon Cullen,

      I don’t know any of you and I don’t know any of the boys and young men you speak of, but I’m moved, compelled even, to contribute to this … conversation? Is it, a conversation? And anyway, is another conversation what’s needed? Instead, can there be a dialogue between us? Can we really listen, imagining that each person has a piece of the puzzle, that each person needs help in bringing their piece of the puzzle to bear, to be useful, in dealing with, what? … let’s call it a dilemma.

      I’m a new-ish resident of Ocean Shores. As I said, I don’t know you, or the boys, and I have my own limited experience of Ocean Shores and surrounds. I don’t presume to know anything of the specifics of what you share here. But I’m all ears, and I do imagine you all have a piece of the puzzle; something that is useful for and in the possible worlds of these young boys and men, and young people more broadly in this area. I also imagine you cannot not be a part of the total situation that supports the problems and behaviours and lines of division that surface in the article and your posts. And here I am, a part of it too – to borrow SGB Ghetto Mum’s metaphor – in the shit: there ain’t no clean place to stand.

      But I’m moved and driven to contribute: Eve – the poetics of your photo grab me; the tracks disappearing into the encroaching bush, light making brilliant the blue and white ‘writing’ on the walls and sleepers, insistent, demanding to be read, and heard: Deb – I hear you when you speak of “what lies beneath”, the systemic conditions that create the problems and issues and behaviours that are challenging here: Donna – yes, our “full attention”, what a phrase!, stirred me up: Brendon – when you observe that there is “little difference” between these boys and other groups of youth and that “very little has been reported to police” in this area, I’m curious, and I wonder why: Nicole – I’m right there with you when you say you still yet have ideas for “creating something for the future youth of Byron” and, with support and resources, I’m up for helping you to make some of them a reality: Right on, Baylee, in support of Nicole: Mention Banksy and I’m in, Jac: Jen and Jodi – I can add my thanks to Hans and Eve for the stimulation of their article: Pete – I follow you in questioning the value of what’s ‘affordable’, and really heard “young people…steadied up” in your experience of working with them: Donny – your idea of ‘territorialism’ has kept me thinking and reflecting since I read these posts; don’t get me wrong – your perspective and solution is confronting, and not one I agree with: Andy – you are a part of what moved me to action, to write here, when you say “the community has to take it on … that means you and me”: I’m with you in your ‘discerning’ – critical – insight, Sarah; I’ll follow you in calling things out: SGB Ghetto Mum – you changed something in me. I was not going to contribute to this forum here. I read and re-read your post and I couldn’t not include myself. What brilliant questioning, and pushing back! I heard your “fear of how this ends”, and yes to “compassion, understanding and support”.

      So, here it is – a stand:

      First, these boys’ and young men’s voices are not here, not included, nowhere to be heard in the article or these posts: without them, I don’t imagine we can offer and co-create solutions for this dilemma. I don’t imagine ready-made interpretations of their experiences, motivations and actions can take us very far. I don’t imagine the ideas and words that separate ‘them’ and ‘us’ are very helpful at all.

      I am willing to meet with, talk with, and find ways of including these young people in a dialogue.
      I am willing to meet with, talk with and find ways of including all of you in this dialogue.
      I am willing to find ways of involving others – who have pieces of the puzzle that we do not yet have – in this dialogue.

      I’ll need help. I’m willing to bring my puzzle piece to this dilemma? Will you bring yours?


      [email protected]

    • “The parents I know are all very aware of what is going on contrary to what your article insinuates at every blamey turn.” The answer can’t be to ignore the issue though can it? What about the kids being victimised, don’t they deserve a voice? I didn’t find the article blamey, and I think it’s overdue.
      “(woo hoo more days off for taking days off)?” A few days of respite for the staff and other children is sometimes all we can achieve with suspensions. And sometimes these kids just aren’t well served by the school system any more and it is in no one’s interests for them to still be there.
      “Do we blame a local culture that looks down on behavioral labels, when parents simply calling a spade a spade are blamed for failing to see that their kid is “special”?” Totally agree, all kids are special, but none are more important than any others. Having a child with extra needs is bloody hard work. A real challenge is preparing them for adulthood where the same rules will apply to them as everyone else. Much harder than with a typical child.
      “Do we blame the single mums and the absent fathers?” You can be present physically but emotionally/chemically/ electronically absent. An absent parent might be a better choice than a present but dysfunctional one. As a community we should all be working for all the children. Instead of blame, maybe we can focus on actually speaking the truth about what is going on and being open to hearing it. The cycle of change needs to start by acknowledging the problem and our individual role in it.
      “Or do we blame the society that doesn’t support those mums and dads to make it through the tough years of raising young kids and the even tougher years of raising “problem” kids?” Yes. But it needs to go past the blame into action.
      “Do we blame the Byron culture that encourages individualism, following your bliss and seeking your new and more sparkly tribe even when this undermines the family unit?” Yes. But it needs to go past the blame into action.
      “Do we blame the open drug use amongst many parents in this area?” Yes. But it needs to go past the blame into action.
      “Do we blame a society that pays top dollar for a designer dress and f-all for social services (might be an okay place to start!)?” Yes.
      “Do we blame … the other “gang members” parents?” I don’t know- are they all doing the right thing like you seem to be, and challenging the situation, or are they enabling it and making your job harder?
      “Do we blame the ghettos of SGB and the burrows of Ocean shores?” Not wanting to make light off this, but burrows suggests hobbits to me, and SGB doesn’t really qualify as a ghetto. Surely these boys know they don’t really live in a ghetto? Maybe that’s one possible partial response- have these boys do some voluntary work in the inner city.
      “We sure as shit blame ourselves.” I feel for you, I’ve been there. ‘No shame, no blame just honesty and action’ is the way forward. As a community the dirty washing needs to come out on show and get an airing. Well done Nicole Y for trying to get a meeting together, and well done all the parents willing to attend. Shame on the other official groups who wouldn’t. If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.
      “Or do we offer a solution and say this sounds like a bloody horrible situation for our community to be in?” People’s anger is also understandable, but yes it needs to go hand in hand with compassion and willingness to act.
      “Or do we just write long blamey articles in the local newspaper that offer a simplistic look at a much more systemic and complex issue and add more shit to a shitty situation for these kids and their families”. As I said, I found the article a useful step out of the dark. Obviously a single article will be simplistic, but it sure as shit beats looking away because it has opened up more discussion.
      “And no I’m not putting my name on this”, Oh me too! Once bitten, twice shy! Seems that speaking up for solutions often gets more negative attention than contributing to the problem. And so the situation becomes entrenched. I truly wish you and your mini OG well.

    • Really, well said and I agree. I also thought the article more suitable for the Murdoch media than the Echo with its sensationalism. Has the Echo lost it’s edge like Byron Shire’s egalitarian community gives way to neoliberal greed and individualism.

  8. Thank you Hans and Eve for shining a light on this issue at last. Rather than causing more harm, as intimated in some comments, this article is a good step forward. We can’t keep looking away. Thank you Nicole Yadzi both for having the courage to keep speaking out despite negative responses, and for giving a realistic, honest coal face view of the situation.
    The boys in question are the symptom of a problem with the adults. My experience is that there are three groups of parents in SGB/OS.
    1. Great parents holding the line with appropriate boundaries, who have kids who respond to these boundaries. These are in the majority, but it only takes a highly visible minority to spoil the area.
    2. Parents who just don’t want to do their job.
    3. Great parents who are failing to hold the line because they have children who really need safe boundaries, but parents who don’t want to do their job are undermining them by providing the ‘cool house’ with no boundaries. No boundaries = can’t be bothered= no love. This is the real problem. If these parents are to address their kid’s behaviour, they have to address their own and that seems to be too hard.
    As for the police, pfft. I contacted them numerous times to report adults providing alcohol to minors, and allowing/encouraging drug use and underage sex at their homes (12 year olds on bongs and 13 year olds coerced into sex). The police response was to make excuses for these perpetrators and in one case give a child advice on how to avoid being reported as a run away without actually having to go home. Too much paperwork?
    With the level of acceptance in the community of poor adult behaviour in regards to youth, do the kids who need fair, predictable and consistent boundaries really stand a chance? And what chance do the parents who are trying their best but being undermined by the party houses and ego-driven ‘cool parents’ have to get their children safely to adulthood in this community? There are plenty of great male role models around, but with vulnerable youth, the tendency to gravitate towards inappropriate role models needs to be addressed by dealing with the inappropriate adults as a priority. And that is really challenging, but my experience is that there is no will to do this in the community. We are throwing our kids under the bus by not addressing the adults who are providing the alcohol/drugs/unsafe houses. There is also the issue of well-meaning but naive ‘cool parents’ who just turn a blind eye and are afraid to say the Emporer is wearing no clothes because that wouldn’t be cool.
    My job as a parent and as an adult is to model and expect civil behaviour in return, not to be cool, or to be a kid’s friend.
    This area has become a fool’s paradise, and the kids are paying the price, as are the majority of families doing the right thing day in day out. SBG/OS aren’t ghettos. Yes there are few youth facilities and organised activities, and pockets of disadvantage, but SGB in particular is pretty well heeled and a beautiful little village. There is no excuse for the behaviour on display and it shouldn’t be accepted. Plenty of kids from OS/SGB make their own fun without it involving antisocial behaviour. They should not be the victims of those who are learning the rules don’t apply to them. Understanding the challenges many youth face is different from making them into victims and excusing their behaviour and it’s a fine line to walk, but as adults, nobody will be making excuses for them.

  9. This is an attempt at a shame article to the parents of these teens and the teens themselves run by the echo.
    The tags in which they write is something that is a theme for many young people in various locations world wide.
    Unless there is evidence of theft , the statement made by the echo and in some of the comments is hear say and gossip and deformation of character of a group of individuals , as the police have stated ” there have been very few crime incidents reported to police attributable to these boys” if there is a local gig on and a bunch of phones get stolen it’s easy to lay blame just because these boys were at the event . These boys have become a discussion piece to throw blame at for every crap thing that happens in this area and often it does not involve them. Sometimes on occasion it does . As someone whom has studied youth at a diploma level , I know that how they are acting as a group and individually is a reflection on their development and their age first . Secondly the support they have around them.
    There are lots of desperate people around whom steal , the thefts in the Byron shire are regular .None of the SGB boys that I know have ever been charged with theft . These are boys who are acting like boys . Each of them are INDIVIDUALS and that is important to remember. They are all different , with different needs and goals. I live is the slums ( as painted by the echo) of SGB , I have two teenage sons , neither have ever been charged with anything , neither have ever been on welfare benefits and both have jobs.
    Stop the labels ! If you want to throw mud around , Sometimes it sticks unfortunately, and how can a boy whom is finding his way, get there without the support of the community and covered in mud ?

    The comment about the kid with his head under mans boot is pretty disturbing !

  10. Letter to the Boys

    I for one would like to hear from the boys! Its ok for us all to make copious comments about what you think, why you think it, and who you blame for it? Maybe you don’t even care but I wonder if you find it a bit offensive that it is suggested that your mothers are all neglectful and couldn’t possibly be a positive role models? To suggest that all single mothers are neglectful is seriously offensive to me. I too have a fifteen year old son and I am pretty sure, if anyone asked him, he would say I was one.

    Maybe you boys are heading nowhere because there is nowhere to head? I am pretty sure you lost boys definitely do have a Peter Pan of your own that you admire and look up to, whether positive or negative, but there is the chance that they may not have your best interests at heart.

    I am not sure if suggesting a program like Pathways to Manhood that requires a father figure or mentor is a solution when the article suggests this is exactly the problem, where will you so called fatherless, mentorless boys find one of these? Maybe ‘Hemsy’ could do it, but we better check with you first if you like him!

    How do you feel about a statement that says all you can hope for is to be “dead, drug addled and in jail?” Are you bored? What would you like to see happen in your ‘territory’? To put it bluntly is there anything we can do for you?

    Speak up boys! You have a had a voice ever since you were born, a loud one that we were forced to listen to, you should use it, even if it is just to stick up for your mums… I will be listening.

  11. dear ‘ghetto mums’,
    I also have a teenage boy in the north of the shire.
    Fear of theft and violence has been a lingering theme in his teenage years.
    I am not okay with that. Something needs to be done. I didn’t hear anyone blaming you.
    But we need to talk as a community and create change.

  12. Thinking on the graffiti tags ( like territorial pissing ) perhaps if these boys felt part of a strong loving community , they would not feel the need or want to mark their territory ? It may solve a lot of the other problems too !
    Just a thought

  13. Hi everyone,

    For those of you that speak of action beyond words, thoughts and objections/opposition, I’m keen to learn what you actually propose?

    What will you do?

    What do you offer?

    Who will you invite to join you?

    Clearly, no ‘community’ can be assumed, until one actually forms …

    Please see my own offer in my first comment above.


    [email protected]

  14. These half-formed individuals have created havoc at local events resulting in Kohinur Hall hiring security for its New Year’s Eve event for the first time in 42 years. I have witnessed violent and cowardly bashings by these individuals and heard first hand accounts of their gang-like stand-over tactics and property theft including stealing alcohol (in some cases entire eskys), phones, bags and cash from community events including from a fundraiser at Durrumbul Hall for a neighbour who lost her house in a fire. Many victims of their violence are too afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals especially young people in their age group. At the recent Earth Frequency Festival many of the SGB crew were implicated in acts of theft and violence involving camp raids while festival patrons were absent from their camps. One individual had a $600 mountain bike stolen. I don’t agree with Donny’s solution re: vigilante action but I fear that may unfold naturally if the perpetrators attitude and activities do not change and there is no satisfactory response from the authorities.

    I don’t believe the article is particularly blaming but it does indicate an emergent problem that seems beyond the capacity of parents and community to solve. Exclusion from the social sphere seems inevitable as does the gang’s isolation from social opportunities leaving only an outlaw life as an option.

    It is time this malaise of unaddressed lawlessness and impunity comes to an end. The community needs to collectively push back with unity and purpose and state that enough is enough and re-state and uphold unequivocally our community standards. If re-education is not voluntary then the only likely shift in attitude will come from looking at the inside of a jail cell and we know that will never end happily.

  15. Firstly, I will be in contact with you very soon BLOS, I agree with a lot of the points you raised.

    And secondly, there seems to be a lot of blame and name calling going on here with a lot of assumption and very little fact.

    Can we all just take a minute to reflect and think back to when we were that age? Were we all angels? Did we all do as our parents asked? I know I was a difficult teen, my mother, on her own mind you raised two sons on government assistance with no other income and very little support from family and we turned out okay. My point is that there is a way to get these kids on track, we just need to figure out how to do this by working together, not by naming blaming and shaming. there is no competition here, we are all wanting the same outcome.

    I have learned in the past (from working with a similar situation), that solutions are out there for these issues but only by working together and being open to each others ideas for change. Not by destructively criticizing anyone who is involved. Personally, I think these kids need someone to listen to them and try to understand why they do the things that they do before we can consider intervention. Though I may be wrong, I’m still willing to get involved and give it a try because the day that we give up on our youth is the day we give up on our future.
    These troubled youths ARE our future whether we like it or not, so for all those that are willing to try to be involved in change please join BLOS and myself and send BLOS an email with how you are willing to help.

  16. I would like to draw your attention to a very successful Youth group being run for over 4 years by “Intra Youth Service” an outreach arm of The Buttery. It started in Lismore and has now also run in Casino for 15 months. There is a very real possibility of a group In your area. Watch this 10minute video about the group.

  17. I realise this article is a few months old now and I’m wondering if this problem persists. My partner and I have been recently approved for a lovely rental house in South Golden Beach for us and our two children, aged two (boy) and eleven (girl). Since learning about these try-hard ‘gangs’, we’re hesitant to make the move to the area.

    I would have fears for our daughter being harassed or attacked if she ventured to the shop alone, I would have fears when taking my toddler son to local parks or the skate bowl. I would have genuine fears for these teens themselves, if they attempted to attack or harass any member of our family, or things escalated to them attempting a break-in at our home (these things will always escalate given time and no intervention) and my ex-military, very protective husband were to be present or find out. If our family were threatened, those misguided boys would come out second best as a matter of self defence and the outcome wouldn’t be pretty or helpful. If the community doesn’t intervene swiftly and with presence, these boys are going to be in danger themselves, if not by someone like my husband, then someone else defending themselves, their home or their family. Perhaps they feel like big fishes in a little pond and they don’t understand there are sharks everywhere. This isn’t in any way a statement of support for violence as a solution; professional intervention, family support and police monitoring is the better way; yet dog eats smaller dog is the inevitable law of the jungle, especially if someone has children to protect. This is eventual outcome if nothing else happens, the community feels unsafe, the police don’t do enough and the people push back. Clearly the parents of these kids need help to get this under control, regardless of who is ‘to blame’.

    I don’t have the answer and I love the Ocean Shores/SGB area. We were so keen to move there but now we are both very hesitant, for everyone’s sake. I don’t want my family moving to a war zone.

    • Dear Concerned,
      well I dont know if you have moved to SGB yet but I am telling you now that the gang DOES still exist and continues to threaten children, adults and the community in general. One of my family members have been threatened with violence only last week and is now in fear of being out in public. A daughter? Oh good luck with that. The community has been harrassed and afraid to step out to police but hopefully all that is going to change.
      I for one would support any person who needs to protect his/her family and your husband may very well need to do that. I am currently seeking legal advice and encourage the whole community to do the same.
      I am a very compassionate person but push come to shove, I will do everything I can to protect ,my family and these boys and young men are too stupid to realise there are bigger sharks as you say. STEP UP COMMUNITY. The police need official statements. These boys laugh at the cops.
      If you are threatened, verbally or physically assaulted or feel unsafe in any way- for F#KS sake go to the police, make a statement and get some action happening. If we all make a stand and call for these boys to pull their heads in then they will know their place I hear the discussions about ‘nothing to do’ for young people. Oh my God, I have raised 4 sons and guess what, they dont tag, they dont steal, they dont go to parties and start fights and they certainly do NOT belong to a gang. And before any of you think I think my boys are angels- stop right there. I am not blind to their faults, but dont give me that bullshit about being bored. Violence and intimidating people has nothing to do with boredom. Thats just a cruel nature.. There will be action soon SGB, the sharks are circling!

  18. The problem here is lack of RESPECT, these kids know they can do and say what they like with no action by Police as laws have gone soft. This would not be happening 20yrs ago and would not be tolerated but these days some youth are a disgrace with the lack of respect, manners and have no respect for authority etc. One day they’ll go up against wrong person and find out the hard way, sad but true.


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