Expand youth services at the City of Greater Bendigo

Council needs to expand the range of youth services it offers. Its current resourcing of youth services is completely inadequate.

My latest campaign proposal is to call for an expansion of council’s youth services, in addition to my recent youth employment proposals. I think that the city’s youth services staff do many great things with young people, such as the youth council and the Ambedo magazine. However, I think we should be expanding the City’s services to young people, particular in the area of generalist youth work. Generalist youth work is offered to any young person and does not have a particular focus, rather than those who need a specific service, for example homelessness, mental health or youth justice services.

There is a historical reason why the city does not offer many services. Local councils used to offer a stack of youth services, but then decided to contract these out to specialists. Consequently, many local youth services such as Anglicare and Headspace are focussed on young people with a particular need, such as homelessness, drugs and alcohol misuse, and mental health. These are fantastic, but after contracting these out, most local councils don’t give much funding to their youth teams.

For example, currently the City of Greater Bendigo allocates just $165,000 for wages to the youth team. That equates to about 3 full-time staff, and I am being generous. That is not nearly enough to meet the needs of our young people, who make up about 17% of our population. It’s a pittance. It’s small change. It’s insulting.

Among other proposals, I am calling for:

  1. An expansion of the youth team to enable better engagement with secondary schools.
  2. An outreach team of youth workers co-ordinated by Council to connect with young people where they spent time, such as skate parks, shopping centres, Hargreaves Mall, and public transport centres.
  3. An increased selection of free programs and events, which would be shaped by the preferences of young people.

(Image credit: Photo by kat wilcox from Pexels)