For CEO of West Coast Youth and Community Support (WCYCS), Jo Clark, the key to working with young people is listening to what they have to say and then acting on it.
‘By ignoring what young people say we risk undermining their confidence and their willingness to make decisions, making them more passive and more dependent.
‘Our Youth Advisory Committee sits at the centre of all of the programs and services we provide for young people. From a pool of about 25, we get 8 or 10 young people to weekly meetings where we discuss progress on the projects they are interested in and new ideas and issues they want to raise.
‘When we were setting up our new Youth Hub, over 200 young people responded to a survey asking what they wanted. Some things, like free Wi-Fi, were expected but others, like a homework study space and tutoring, were also popular and they will be a part of the planning in 2018.’
‘I believe that the rights in the Charter of Rights are important for all of the young people we work for, not just those in state care, and I particularly like the importance the Charter places on hearing the voices of young people – that is its real strength.’
Next to the Youth Hub is Youthoria, the town’s only cinema, providing valuable work experience otherwise unavailable to vulnerable young people. WCYCS’s Youth Programs Manager Angela Perin explains how, driven by the vision of a passionate group of young people, WCYCS acquired the cinema when it closed.
‘We have run it with young people for the last ten years, and for the last seven at break even or better. But the real profit is in the training and employment opportunities for Port Lincoln’s young people and its benefits for the community and local community groups.’
Jo Clark explains that, with over 25 per cent youth unemployment and a very few Aboriginal people being employed in local businesses and government offices, she fears that Port Lincoln is storing up some serious social problems for the future.+
‘The local community and services have been able to put together some great collaborative work and Rotary have been fantastic but we have serious issues in homelessness, crime and unemployment and we really need major investment from the other levels of government.’
Watching the golden children laughing and leaping off the Town Jetty into the Bay in the warm evening sun, you hope that investment is forthcoming.