Youth issues are set to take on more prominence under the newly elected Mid-Western Regional Council.
Several of the councillors campaigned for more recreational and employment opportunities for young people in the lead up to the September 10 election, and the strong support for Cr Alex Karavas and his youthful team showed that many share this view.
Cr Russell Holden has lost no time in getting youth issues on the agenda, listing a notice of motion calling for a youth forum on the agenda for the new council’s second meeting.
He is proposing a forum that will bring together incoming and outgoing captains of local high schools, school staff, past Max Potential participants, Youth Council members and other interested people to discuss issues such as education, employment and recreational facilities.
If adopted, the forum would give young people a say in the council’s youth strategy, which would influence future planning and and funding decisions.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011 Census), 26.78 per cent of the region’s population are aged 19 years or under. Of these, 13.56 per cent are between 10 and 19 years, the second largest age group after those aged 40-49 years. Yet apart from the Mid-Western Region Youth Council, this is the first time in recent years that young people have had an opportunity to speak publicly about issues that concern them.
Ideally, the forum would also include young adults who may have left high school and are already working, seeking employment or undertaking training.
The issues they raise – such as availability of transport to attend TAFE courses outside the district, access to higher education, and the availability of traineeships or jobs – may be very different from those put forward by high school aged students.
Providing worthwhile jobs and recreational facilities for young people is vital to the region.
Not only will it allow young people to live and work close to their family and friends if they choose to do so, it may also encourage other young people and families to relocate here, as well as encouraging those who leave the district to gain higher education and experience to return and raise families here in the future.
The youth forum is a proposal that deserves council’s support.