The Magistrates' Association of NSW's charitable association JUSTcare donated $3500 to Armidale's youth work charity BackTrack this week.
Magistrate Roger Prowse said BackTrack was a worthwhile organisation, doing a great job.
He and former New England magistrate Karen Stafford recommended the association fund the charity. They know first-hand how Armidale juvenile crime rates have halved since Bernie Shakeshaft founded BackTrack 13 years ago.
Mr Shakeshaft said the donation came out of the blue. "We're pretty humbled for them to choose us. With the type of kids that we work with, having a group of magistrates make a donation is pretty special."
The donation will be used for early intervention programs - such as working with dogs and horses - to keep kids from going to the magistrates, Mr Shakeshaft said. BackTrack will also start another program in animal care, primarily working with 15- to 16-year-old girls.
"The more kids they keep out of court, the better," Mr Prowse said. "The ultimate goal of any court system would be not to have anything to do. That would mean clearly the unrealistic goal of no crime, no disputes, no other problems of any sort involving children would occur. We know that's not going to happen.
"But anything that assists in keeping kids out of court, and out of the welfare system, has to be applauded. And clearly that was in the members' minds when they decided to donate part of the year's takings to BackTrack."
The funding was a wonderful opportunity, Mr Shakeshaft thought.
"We like to fill those programs from as many different funding sources as we can, which keeps them alive. We're big fans of multiple funding into programs; it gives you more flexibility, and helps with the longevity of it."
The Magistrates' Association funded JUSTcare three years ago, as an additional way to contribute to the community.
"We hope it will continue to grow so that more funds go to worthwhile community-based organisations," Mr Prowse said.
The Magistrates' Association also donated to two other NSW charities.