A new community partnership with retailers, youth services and police has delivered a range of activities, such as sport, art and music, over the summer holidays to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.
The Queensland Youth Partnership Initiative is one of 51 new initiatives being delivered through the Palaszczuk government’s record half a billion-dollar investment into youth justice reform.
The program brings together local community groups, state government services, police and shopping centres in North Lakes, Townsville, Rockhampton, Chermside, Coomera and Helensvale to deliver youth related activities and reconnect young people with health services and education, training and employment opportunities.
Member for Bancroft Chris Whiting said the program delivered at North Lakes over the school holidays showed the positive outcomes that can come from the community working together.
“Shopping centres are places where everybody expects to feel safe, and that’s how it should be,” he said.
“Young people who don’t have safe place to go often gravitate to shopping centres, which can be a bit of a problem sometimes.
“This initiative is a fantastic way for police, government services and community leaders to connect with young people, offer support, guidance and advice in a way that makes them feel like part of the community.
“Youth workers and police have been really positive about the program, and they say they’ve seen significant behaviour changes for the better.
“Even better, some retailers have offered young people work experience as a result of this program.”
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said community safety was the government’s top priority and that included feeling safe at shopping centres, at home and in the community.
Ms Farmer said YMCA was instrumental in running activities at Northlakes, which included basketball competitions, pool and table tennis and hip hop workshops.
“Boredom can sometimes lead to trouble in our shopping centres, but this program provides positive and constructive things for young people to do which has had a positive impact inside and outside the shopping centres.”
“It’s a great demonstration of what can be achieved when communities work together to provide young people with structured activities and an alternative place to congregate and hang out.”
Stephanie Blunt, Manager Youth Services, YMCA Social Impact, said it was important for young people to feel safe, have a sense of belonging and to be part of a community hub.
“The Space at North Lakes gives young people in the community somewhere to go and interact positively in a supervised setting,” she said.
“Activities offered as part of the pilot program gave young people an opportunity to build new skills, have some fun, and feel like an important part of the community.
“YMCA Brisbane is very happy with the outcomes achieved from the pilot. As a youth-focused service provider, we look forward to working with Queensland Government to deliver additional community-based activities and programs for young people in the future.”
Services and activities delivered under the Queensland Youth Partnership Initiative were delivered between 13 December 2019 and 25 January 2020.
The impact and design of the program will be further assessed before the next school holidays in April 2020.