BIKERS AGAINST CHILD ABUSE!
By MEL MARTIN
MOTORCYCLE rider Andrew Deen can't bear the thought that some children live in fear.
"Child abuse transcends all levels of society," Mr Deen said.
"Even in this beautiful area we live in there are too many cases."
This passion has led Mr Deen to establish a new Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) branch on the Coffs Coast, and he is calling on all motorcycle riders in the region to join him in the fight against child abuse.
Any man or woman with a motorcycle, a desire to help children and time to commit can join.
"Our members consist of ordinary people who love their bikes and kids," Mr Deen said.
"We are business owners, police officers, doctors, sales people, mechanics, and others from all walks of life that share one common bond ? the love and protection of our nation's greatest asset, our children."
BACA started in the US, and including the Coffs Harbour chapter, now has seven chapters in Australia.
The organisation works with government and non-government organisations, through which children needing support are referred.
"When a child is referred to us, as a chapter with the maximum number of bikes, we ride to the child's home and present him or her with a vest with a BACA patch and some bike memorabilia," Mr Deen said.
"We then organise three members living the closest to the child to be the child's direct contacts when needed.
"The child becomes part of the organisation and we put ourselves between the abuser and the child."
Mr Deen says that BACA does not condone violence and is not a vigilante group, but sends a clear message that members are prepared to do whatever it takes to keep the child safe.
"We prefer not to have any contact with the abuser, but if there is a confrontation, we will involve the police," he said.
"We're building a positive relationship with motorcycle clubs, police, and organisations in the region, and are already getting lots of support from the bike shops.
"We want to build up sufficient support to be a positive influence for those kids."
BACA only takes on children who have been officially referred, and no contact is made without the knowledge and permission of the child's guardian. Guardians are always present and no member is ever with the child on their own.
While the organisation's primary mission is to provide direct support to children, other activities include fundraising through auctions, raffles and poker rides, as well as barbecue and picnic days for the children.
"It's a fantastic cause," Mr Deen said.
Mr Deen would also like to hear from a child psychologist who can provide advice to members.
Potential members will need to pass a thorough criminal background check for offences relating to child abuse or domestic violence, which costs a one-off, non-refundable $150.
n Motorcycle riders interested in joining BACA Coffs Harbour can call Andrew Deen on 0439 845 449 or email coffsharbour@baca aust.com
For more information visit www. bacaaust.com
To report suspected child abuse, call DoCS on 132 111.