Local agencies are pushing the case for a youth hub in Goulburn to expand programs for some of the most disadvantaged people in the community.
If established, the facility would win widespread support, Mission Australia program manager Deb Muddiman told Tuesday's council meeting.
During open forum, Ms Muddiman urged councillors to give priority to a youth hub when applying for the State's Stronger Communities Funding. Goulburn Mulwaree has been allocated $886,929 in round three, half of which would go to youth projects. Community organisations can also apply for the funding and proposed projects will go to a public vote to help decide priority.
General manager Warwick Bennett had nominated eight projects for consideration, sparking a 30-minute debate among councillors about the most important works. The options included a rage cage at Leggett Park, valued at $250,000, and purchase of a community bus for $120,000.
But Ms Muddiman's presentation gave them food for thought.
The Youth Hub concept would see a large 25-metre by 25m shed built at the back of the PCYC off Avoca Street. Located on PCYC land, it would unite the burgeoning number of youth programs at the facility on which local agencies such as Mission Australia, Headspace and Anglicare have been partnering.
Ms Muddiman said the initiatives, including Fit for Life and Friday night drop-ins, reaching out to disadvantaged youth, had been hugely successful. But now a dedicated space was needed to accommodate these and other planned programs.
"We know from consultation through the Goulburn Place Plan that particular areas and social housing (zones) have some of the most disadvantaged people in (town)," she said.
"Combined with that we have one of the biggest growth areas around Marys Mount. I do believe this is a great opportunity for the council to collaborate with community organisations."
Mission Australia and NSW Family and Community Services collaborate on Goulburn Place Plan. It targets housing estates and aims to strengthen community ties and grow young people's aspirations.
As part of the Place Plan, the agencies hold a weekly barbecue to connect with residents. They also hosted a recent Youth Week event, which some 500 people attended.
The gatherings, along with the PCYC programs, have enabled what Ms Muddiman described as extensive consultation about needs.
"We know that if we take things to the people, they will use them," she said.
She argued that while parts of Goulburn were growing, they weren't necessarily accompanied by infrastructure. Moreover, centrally based facilities and the proposed Community Centre at Bourke Street, weren't accessible to many youth. In contrast, they could walk to a youth hub at PCYC.
"A lot of people feel a bit forgotten in that part of town," Ms Muddiman said.
She believed the proposed $250,00 for the rage cage would be better directed into the facility.
The hub's cost has not been finalised. The council would lead the funding application, with PCYC and the agencies contributing funding.
Ms Muddiman said the agencies had already held discussions about fundraising. The PCYC committee also thrashed out the idea at a meeting on Tuesday night.
Mission Australia area manager ACT and southeast, Dan Strickland, said the monthly drop-ins trialled at PCYC had been a great success.
"We've all been overwhelmed by the positive response of local young people and have reached a point where we need a dedicated youth centre to meet the demand," he said.
"It would be great to have a space where local young people have the opportunity to unwind, participate in some fun and educational activities, and can make some memories. It would provide a space where they can try their hand at new things, make friends, and connect with local groups and services, as well as inspire ongoing participation in a range of activities."
PCYC manager Mark Croker could not talk specifically about the concept at this stage but said Fit for Life had helped turn around disengaged youth through a fitness program. The children are picked up before school, taken to the PCYC for the session, given breakfast and a packed lunch for the day.
"Over the two days each week (Monday and Wednesday) we average 50 to 60 kids and there are that many on the waiting list again," he said.
Mr Croker said since his appointment in December, he's clearly seen how the agencies had greatly lifted youth prospects. Ms Muddiman also told councillors that the agencies had never worked so well together.
PCYC, Goulburn Place Plan and TAFE are also collaborating to run the SPARKS program, enabling young people out of work to undertake a certificate course in construction.
Deputy Mayor Peter Walker said the youth hub was an "exceptional idea" and would complement other projects in the area such as the BMX track and development of Leggett Park.
Meantime, Cr Leah Ferrara strongly argued that the Bungonia village amenities should be given a higher priority.
"They've been asking for funding for ages," she said.
It was moved slightly higher in the list despite Cr Margaret O'Neill's protestations that Bungonia had received a great deal of funding from the council in recent years.
Following extensive discussion, councillors decided to apply for the following projects in order of priority:
- Community Bus - $120,000;
- All abilities access to Bourke Street centre - $95,000;
- Amenities Block - Cookbundoon Sports Fields - $250,000;
- Youth Hub at PCYC - $250,000;
- Raiseable basketball backboards at the Basketball Arena - $85,000;
- Bungonia village amenities block - $90,000;
- Expansion of Goulburn Library Youth cafe - $50,000; and
- Goulburn Regional Art Gallery stage 2 improvements - $100,000.
Applications for the Stronger Communities Funding are open now and will close on Friday, September 27, 2019. Goulburn MP Wendy Tuckerman said successful projects would be announced from January onwards.
For more information, go to www.nsw.gov.au/SCCF
While you're with us...
Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up here.