Bored in Bellingen

By Jeni Faulkner

WHAT does the youth in Bellingen and surrounding areas want and how do they get it?

Parents and community groups are forever asking this question and it appears The Bellingen and Seaboard Youth Services (BSYS) have finally come up with an answer.

After nine months of deliberation BSYS launched a comprehensive Youth Needs Assessment this week, explaining the needs of youth around Bellingen and seaboard areas.

"The youth need employment training, more transport and more activities," youth development worker Vicki Fernance said.

Having taken on the project from Anna Joy since December, Ms Fernance said there was about 1200 kids in the area who were constantly struggling within their community.

"One of the most interesting things we have found is that there is a lot of agreement about what the main issues are for young people in our area," she said.

Young people, service providers and the general community gave their opinions in the report and the best highlights were the river, the beach and the general lifestyle.

"Many kids suffer boredom and isolation here and although there are events like raves for them to attend the problem of transport comes into effect again."

Drugs and alcohol abuse also featured in the report, along with the need for more emergency accommodation.

"We find many youths here tend to wander around with nothing to do and we are hoping this assessment brings out a lot of elements for them like workshops and new employment opportunities."

Ms Fernance said currently youth leave the area after schooling because there is nothing for them to do and she hopes to use this report as a lobbying tool for things like a youth centre, more accessible transport and more employment.

The report was launched at Bellingen Shire Council on Friday and Ms Fernance said it would be used by government and non-government agencies to improve services.

For a copy of the assessment phone BSYS on 6655 0167.



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