Valley youth service survives

A CLARENCE Valley project that aims to tackle problems of teenage binge drinking and other antisocial problems by providing an on-the-spot counselling service has received a much-needed funding top-up.

The Clarence Valley Street Cruise van that took a group of counsellors onto the streets to talk to young people about drinking habits and other health issues was in danger of remaining in the garage unless more funding was forthcoming.

The Federal Government’s National Binge Drinking Strategy has pumped $149,727 into the coordinator of the project, the New School of Arts Neighbourhood House in South Grafton.

Page MP Janelle Saffin said the grant for services that provide outreach to young people as well as entertainment was timely.

“With the events of recent weeks there is strong community concern about alcohol-related violence involving our young people, and this is certainly a timely and welcome announcement for the Clarence Valley,” she said.

The program also has the strong support of Clarence Valley Council.

The general manager, Stuart McPherson, said the project was an important element in crime prevention because it heads off problems before they start.

He said the grant for Clarence Valley Street Cruise was one of the best ways that money can be spent on crime prevention, and more effective than CCTV coverage.

The youth services coordinator for the neighbourhood house, Colleen Kennedy, said the grant means they can continue the work which began with the pilot program in 2008-2009.

“This grant will go a long way towards keeping our young people safer on the streets,” Ms Kennedy said.

The coordinators will have to tweak the operation of the Street Cruise to keep it within its funding guidelines.

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