By Jessica Micallef
Gisborne Leading Senior Constable Jason Azzopardi was awarded Macedon Range’s Community Achievement Award on Australia Day. The Macedon Ranges resident chats with Jessica Micallef about his organisation KidzFlip.
What is your connection to the Sunbury and Macedon Ranges?
I reside in the Macedon Ranges and have been a police member in the area since 2005. I have a vested interest in the community in which I live in.
How long have you lived in the area?
I moved to the Macedon Ranges in 2002.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about helping the community to see the potential in the youth of the area, I am passionate about identifying problems in the Macedon Ranges and surrounding townships and providing solutions and enacting on these solutions by educational programs for the community that enhance the service provided by Victoria Police.
How did it feel to know you were awarded with the Macedon Ranges Community Achievement Award?
Hard one to answer. I am gracious to receive the award but I feel that the entire committee of KidzFlip deserve the award not just me. It was an honour to be the recipient of the Macedon Ranges Community Achievement Award.
When did you form your organisation KidzFlip?
KidzFlip was formed in 2016. KidzFlip for me was formed to educate youth about their wrongs, provide a platform for them to be educated and given another chance. However, it is now more than that. It addresses youth mental health, youth family violence, substance abuse, peer group pressure. It provides access to after school programs, clinical services, employment pathways, good self-wellbeing and community engagement, just to name a few of its benefits to the community.
What would people be most surprised to know about you?
I come from a country town in Gippsland, called Morwell. I left school in year 11 at the age of 16 to pursue an apprenticeship in carpentry, however I always wanted to help people and I wanted to become a police officer. I tried several times between the ages of 21 and 27 to fulfill my dream of becoming a police officer but I was unsuccessful. At the age of 30 I engaged the services of a tutor – retired English teacher – and with his assistance, whilst working two jobs and providing for a young family, I prepared myself for the police entrance exam. In April of 2002, I graduated from the Glen Waverley Police Academy. I hope in saying this that others may realise that it is never too late to fulfill dreams and aspirations.
What are some of the best things about the Sunbury and Macedon Ranges?
I like the community feel about the area, the sense of a village that cares for all that live, work and are a part of that village. I like the friendly faces and the fact that people still have old-fashioned values and are always there to lend a hand or just say ‘hi’ as they pass you by.
If you could change one thing about the area, what would it be?
If I had a magical wand and could do just one thing it would be to provide services for the youth that enhance what areas are already in existence – better sporting facilities, better areas for youth to gather and utilise their free time, more after school programs that promote healthy lifestyles and good wellbeing. These programs would be tailored by the youth and run with youth management and community assistance. I would seek community engagement in these programs because with more community engagement the community sees what is lacking and can address the issues identified.