Report reveals troubling reality facing Coffs youth
A TWO-year investigation undertaken by Coffs Harbour City Council has revealed the troubling reality facing the city's youth.
It looked at the key needs of those aged 12 to 24, who make up approximately 15 per cent of the population - and unemployment was one of the biggest concerns.
Only 28 per cent of respondents agreed there were good options for employment in the region, and this was identified as the key reason behind why Coffs struggles to retain its youth.
Young people aged 18-24 are the only demographic group that recorded a loss in migration in the 2016 census, with a net loss of over 1,000 people between 2011-2016.
Coffs Harbour has a notoriously high level of youth unemployment, with young people already two times more likely to be unemployed than adults.
According to the paper, in 2016 about 13.3 per cent of young people were disengaged from both employment and education.
The suburb of Toormina recorded the highest proportion of disengaged youth at 24.8 per cent, followed by the rural west at 18.5 per cent.
On top of this, the paper predicts that Covid-19 will have a disproportionately damaging effect on local youth in the workforce.
Mayor Cr Denise Knight acknowledged the urgent need to create more opportunities for region's youth, saying it was the reason behind her long-held passion to have improved cultural and community facilities in the city centre.
"The region has a troublingly high level of youth unemployment that I know concerns all levels of government," Cr Knight said.
"We all need to work together as a community to give our young people the future they deserve. I'd urge everyone to please take the time to provide input on the paper."
Mental health, juvenile crime, and housing and homelessness are among several other issues explored in the paper.
The in-depth Youth Issues and Options Paper, which is now on public exhibition, aims to stimulate discussion on how the city can improve the futures of its young people.
"Policy-makers and researchers alike recognise that young people are experts in their own lives. They have knowledge and experiences that are unique to them and they often have unique perspectives of their community and world," Sian Nivison, Council's Group Leader Community and Cultural Services said.
"When we asked local youth what the key issues were that affected them the most, they identified 12 key areas which we have highlighted in the Options Paper for discussion."
View the paper here and make a submission on the council website by August 24.