Ex-bikies follow a new path
A SHIFT is happening among some of the city's bikies, with at least six members of notorious gangs seeking out a local church to help them turn around their lives.
And former bikies are confident more will follow.
Their move from the dangerous culture of outlaw motorcycle gangs coincides with the formation of a Christian motorcycle club on the Gold Coast - believed to be the first of its kind in the country founded by an ex-bikie.
Michael Barrett, chief executive of the Transformations Program, said three former bikies were already involved with the church at Surfers Paradise.
"We really believe that God is moving among bikies in our city,” he said.
He asked for the names of their clubs not be revealed.
"These guys are looking for a real community, for love and acceptance and they are finding it with us - instead of in the false brotherhood offered by gangs,” he said.
"I believe we are on the cutting edge of revolutionary things.
"I got a call from a member of another gang the other day. He asked what time our church meets and he said, 'I think I might come along'. He did.
"Bikies on the Gold Coast are contacting me because I have had relationship with a lot of them and with the key players, who are starting to influence the other guys.
"The anti-bikie laws introduced by the Queensland Government and being enforced by police are definitely having an effect.
"They have caused some bikies to think carefully about better lives.
"At the moment, there is a trend of bikies in our city turning their lives around. I believe the laws have played a big part in this.”
Mr Barrett is a former debt collector, drug dealer and addict who had a radical lifestyle change years ago.
He has since founded the Transformations rehabilitation program and does not shy away from working with the city's addicted, broken and violent.
His rehab program operates on strict principles, coupled with intensive therapy and Christian values, and has expanded to other parts of the country and the US. It has one of the highest success rates in Australia.
"It's all about love and relationship. They are responding and reaching out to us,” he said.
Mr Barrett said the recent formation of the Kingsmen Christian Motorcyle Club was part of this.
"Kingsmen is a way of providing positive brotherhood but it's also a pay-forward thing,” he said.
One of the founders is Luke Hainsworth, a former enforcer with the One Percent gang in Wollongong.
"I spent a fifth of my life in jail and I want to help young people so they don't make all the mistakes I made,” he said.
He said Kingsmen had already attracted a bikie who had recently left an outlawed motorcycle club.
"He can't be named for the sake of everyone involved,” Mr Hainsworth said.
Another founding member is Kyryl Chefanov, also from the One Percent world.
"When you see the likes of Luke, Kyryl and another former bikie, all coming to church every week and other current One Percenter members getting to church as often as they can, you know that things might be changing,” Mr Barrett said.
"They are turning their lives around and they are giving back.”
Mr Hainsworth, 31, said the Kingsmen were partnering with United Hands of Hope to feed the homeless at Cascade Gardens and at the Mudgeeraba Caravan Park.
"We're also about to start an anti-bullying campaign at schools,” he said.
"Like so many other bikies, I was bullied at high school, which was one of the reasons my life spiralled into violence and crime.
"My heart is for the kids and I see them looking for brotherhood in gangs, like I did. I want to show them there is a better way.”