YOUNG people from Bass Coast have spent the past few weeks flipping through budget papers, trying to make sense of surpluses and deficit, and working out how the draft plans benefit young people.
It’s a mundane job, but it’s important that young people are getting involved in issues affecting them.
And it’s this year’s budget that will affect them the most, after the proposed YES Youth Hub was left unfunded.
On Wednesday, at a special council meeting to hear budget submissions, students from Bass Coast Specialist School, Newhaven College and Wonthaggi Secondary College told councillors what they approve and disapprove of in the Draft Budget 2017-18 and Council Plan 2017-21.
Newhaven College student Meg Hynes was impressed by the council’s environment goals for the next four years.
“We also support your improvements to Wonthaggi Secondary College and recommend that you continue to advocate for funding,” she said.
“As young people we feel we need to be involved in decisions by the council because the world is rapidly evolving around us.”
Wonthaggi Secondary College student Britney Ames said council should have a greater focus on young people and employment.
“We think this is important because young people are going to be taking over these roles in the future, so we need to be prepared for them.”
The students’ submission follows a Skype session with Mayor Cr Pamela Rothfield and Deputy Mayor Cr Brett Tessari last month discussing the Draft Budget 2017-18 and Council Plan 2017-21.
YES Youth Hub
“Say yes already”, YES Youth Hub steering committee member Dr Penny Mitchell and project coordinator Michael Feehan told councillors on Wednesday.
The two presented their cases to councillors on why Bass Coast is in desperate need of a Youth Hub, after funding for it was excluded from the Draft Budget 2017-18.
Earlier this year, the steering committee asked council to set aside $129,000 over three years to fund rent and other expenses for a building in Graham Street, Wonthaggi.
The Youth Hub will be a drop in space for young people, offering recreational and life skills programs, including resume writing and how to start a small business.
It will also host health and wellbeing services and be a place for community groups to come together and share ideas.
Mr Feehan said he wants to see the best outcome for young people in Bass Coast and the feedback has been that the community needs the Youth Hub.
Dr Mitchell fired up at councillors, saying the situation cannot be turned around by repeating what’s been done in the past.
“It’s not good enough for this council to merely produce a new Youth Action Plan once every five years,” she said.
“It’s not good enough to facilitate a bi-monthly meeting of the Youth Services Providers Network, the main function of which is to merely exchange information.
“It’s not good enough even to involve young people in reflecting and commenting on council plans unless there is a commitment to actually respond to some of the things that those young people say that they want.”
Dr Mitchell and Mr Feehan covered a range of points on why the Youth Hub will help young people in Bass Coast, such as it helping to develop their leadership skills, recognising and channelling their potential and giving them a place where they have a sense of belonging.
Mr Feehan said there are many volunteers in the community who are willing to help out when the Youth Hub gets up and running.
“Something that’s amazed us over the past 18 months is how many people, who are living in this community, are passionate about doing something for the young people, and they have incredible depth and breadth of experience and resources.”
Councillors will consider changes to the Annual Budget 2017-18 and Council Plan 2017-21 at the next council meeting on Wednesday, June 21.