THE finishing touches are being put on the fitouts for the Out of the Box project - now it's up to Clarence Valley youth and service providers to make the most of this Australia-first innovation.
Essentially, Out of the Box is a federally-funded project co-ordinated by Clarence Valley Council which involves three portable (and highly durable) rooms that can be transported around the Clarence Valley to deliver services and activities to youth.
One box is an IT centre, another a cafe and the third an art space (colour code explained below) and now CVC has secured two years of funding through the Australian National Preventative Health Agency to run programs aimed at tackling youth binge drinking through the boxes.
The council has appointed Mark Conaghan as an "Eyes Wide Co-ordinator" to look after the anti-binge drinking programs and has secured an outdoor cinema system (incuding a 5m high inflatable screen) for community film nights.
The boxes, which are now in Market Square, Grafton will work in with new skateparks at Wooli, Coutts Crossing, Yamba and Copmanhurst and CVC will roll out a series of skatboarding workshops in coming months with Skateboard Australia.
They are designed to be moved by flatbed trucks with winches (such as large tow-trucks).
The new skateparks (not including Yamba) and landing pads for the boxes were also funded by the Federal Government at a cost of $700,000.
CVC's community development officer (children and youth) Sarah Ford said the boxes would be moved around the Valley on a six-week rotation but may also be available for special events. An online booking system is under construction.
The boxes themselves cost $600,000 altogether and are designed to withstand the most vigorous break-in attempt - each door and window is protected by lockable reinforced steel covers that double as awnings when they are open.
Other agencies have also come on board for Out of the Box including NSW Police, New School of Arts, Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Service and North Coast Community Health.
What's in the box?
Blue - Information Technology Centre. Up to 10 laptops will be connected to internet via satellite. Will offer a range of creative uses including media and film training. Service providers such as Centrelink have indicated the blue box could be used to train remote residents in computer use.
Purple - Cafe. Run by the New School of Arts, this fully functional mobile cafe will offer paid employment to suitable young people as it travels through the Valley. It will sell coffee, tea, milkshakes and pre-packaged food with stools and all equipment is designed to withstand the rigours of travel.
Orange - Art Centre. Stocks art supplies and drying racks, the wet/dry floor is designed to withstand punishment from our messiest young creatives. Art will be photographed and shared online through council's Gherkin website.