LOCAL Brighton businesses are being urged to ‘fill the void’ left by the loss of funding for the existing YouthLinx program, which ceases in January next year.
The Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations, (DEEWR) provided approximately $81,000 a year to Bridgewater PCYC to provide services for ‘at risk’ youth and their families as well a family liaison role where youth and their families receive support, information, referrals . When this funding ceases next year, it will be difficult for Bridgewater PCYC to offer any meaningful youth programs catering to the most ‘at risk’ in the community.
Bridgewater PCYC YouthLinx currently provides the following activities/programs:
1. Family liaison officer to provide support, information, advocacy, home visits, referrals etc. for ‘at risk’ youth and their families.
2. Youth Drop In involving both structured and unstructured activities including eight-ball, video games, internet, air hockey, basketball, badminton, table tennis, weight training etc. plus basketball and netball competitions, sporting clinics, workshops etc.
3. Families and Communities Together evenings twice per week involving a meal, cooking, whole of family games and activities, support, workshops etc.
4. Cool Camps involving a male-only and female-only camp once per year for ‘at risk’ youth.
5. Get Out There involving the entering of four to five youth teams in Clarence Basketball Association and Futsal Tasmania competitions.
6. School holiday Programs for youth for seven weeks per year during holidays with free places provided and all others highly subsidised.
7. Family and Community Garden involving a garden outside PCYC where families can get together with their children and grown healthy foods for family consumption
All DEEWR YouthLinx programs have been replaced by youth career and transitions programs. At its April meeting, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to the new program to increase young people’s exposure to education and training pathways.
The Compact with Young Australians comprises a national youth participation requirement, an entitlement to education or training places for 15 to 24-year-olds, and changes to youth allowance and family tax benefit making education and training a precondition for these payments.
COAG also agreed to bring forward its attainment target so that by 2015, 90 per cent of 20-24-year-olds will have attained Year 12 or equivalent or Certificate II or above.
The Compact with Young Australians will be the foundation of a new national partnership on youth attainment and transitions that will also drive longer term reform to ensure that young people stay engaged in education and training and attain a year 12 or equivalent qualification.
Michael Morgan, Bridgewater PCYC’s YouthLinx coordinator said that the goals of YouthLinx were quite different to the Compact with Young Australians program. Youthlinx programs were based around the support of ‘at risk’ youth and families relating to social issues and support rather than simple educational achievement.
“It is certainly worthwhile and a priority to improve educational outcomes for Bridgewater/Gagebrook youth. However, the cessation of YouthLinx funding means that realistically the 29% of non-school attendees at Bridgewater High will no longer have any social support out of school hours not directly related to educational issues.
“The new DEEWR programs do not seem to recognise social issues as a major barrier and treats education as a means in itself and as the panacea for all social issues. On the ground we know this is just not true.”
“Without funding to run programs for the ‘at risk’ youth of Bridgewater and Gagebrook there will be no youth specific service in the community for those in immediate crisis to seek assistance and there is likely to be increased boredom related community and individual harm,” said senior constable Byron Howard, who is Bridgewater PCYC Club’s superintendent.
“It is highly likely that social issues such as crime, anti-social behaviour, poor health outcomes, homelessness etc. will increase greatly. In Bridgewater and Gagebrook, low educational achievement is a serious issue however other social issues are just as important. Social issues have to be addressed before educational outcomes can be improved.”
Bridgewater PCYC is the only youth-focused service provider in the area, welcomes and targets the most ‘at risk’ youth, has the most appropriate facilities and staff, is a non-threatening environment. Also, approximately 90% of local youth attend YouthLinx with membership of more than 350 with Bridgewater High enrolment approximately 350. Further, YouthLinx also attracts those not attending school or only periodically and these youth make up around 30% of clients.
If any local businesses would like to step in and provide short-term financial support to enable Bridgewater PCYC’s programs for ‘at risk’ youth to continue in 2010 then please give Byron Howard or Andrew Dean a call on 6263 5277. Bridgewater PCYC is a registered charity and all donations are tax deductible.