Solution to crime woes
BY ADRIAN MILLER
YOUTH anti-social behaviour could be a thing of the past in Yamba if an ambitious new project receives funding to get off the ground.
The Clarence Valley Youth Engagement and Achievement (YEA!) initiative has been put together by various community groups with the aim of reducing youth crime.
The initiative has been assembled in partnership by the Clarence Valley Council, Clarence Valley Community Programs, Bulgarr Ngaru Aboriginal Medical Service and Yamba's Discovery Ministry.
It has received support from numerous other organisations, including the police, Yamba Neighbourhood Watch, schools, TAFE, Clarence MP Steve Cansdell, Page MP Ian Causley, Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker and Aboriginal communities.
It has been submitted for funding under the Commonwealth National Community Crime Prevention Program and, if successful, will receive close to $500,000 over three years.
Clarence Valley Community Programs CEO Michael Foley said the development of the YEA! initiative was a community response to a growing problem.
"It's about taking positive steps to interact with kids at their level and for their needs," Mr Foley said.
"There is a very strong community sense of the need to do something, and the belief is we need to do something positive."
Clarence Valley Council youth development officer Sarah Forde said the initiative would focus on both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth. Based on overseas models, the initiative will set up forums, committees and youth focus groups, with the aim of providing a voice for teenagers.
It will also aim to open a youth centre to provide a safe place for youths to congregate, and will employ 'street volunteers' to interact with young people at night to prevent bad behaviour.
Aboriginal youth project worker for Bulgarr Ngaru Aboriginal Medical Service, Peter Brown, said the project was the first step in solving the anti-social behaviour problem. He said it would bring members of the Koori and white communities together in a positive way.