According to Vasse MLA Libby Mettam, up to 30 Busselton vulnerable youth are accessing the City of Busselton’s Youth and Community Activities Building for food and shelter.
While the city didn’t confirm this number, community and commercial services director Cliff Frewing said as part of its healthy program it provides fresh fruit two nights a week, a cooking activity every Friday night and a regular sausage sizzle held on a Saturday.
He said the food was provided as part of a broader program of making healthy choices and upskilling youth to learn basic cooking skills as part of life skill development. The youth facility aims to provide a space for youth to socialise and be involved in various programs.
Ms Mettam said the services by the city had highlighted an urgent need for Busselton-based youth support services.
“Busselton is now the largest local government area outside of Perth, but unfortunately the decentralisation of services is out of step with the significant growth of this region,” she said.
“Up to 30 youths regularly present at the new youth centre and it is a credit to the City of Busselton that they are now providing meals to some of our vulnerable youth at this centre. However, it is clear that more support is required.”
Mr Frewing said funding to for organisations such as LAMP, headspace and the Youth Mental Health team based at the Busselton hospital was positive, but more support was needed.
“Crisis accommodation, affordable housing and homelessness continues to be priority issues that young people experience in our community,” he said.
Mr Frewing said there were a number of issues affecting youth that needed to be focused on by all levels of government and community. Issues include lack of positive parenting, role modelling, employment opportunities and training, and access to drug, alcohol and health support services.
He also said there was a lack of collaboration between groups and agencies to identify gaps and work to fix them. A state government spokesperson said the government provided $1.3 million per annum to community services organisations for youth accommodation and at-risk youth services across the South West.
“In Busselton, the state government funds the Youth South West service which delivers a support service for young people and their families to address issues including parent/teen conflict, school or work-related issues, substance abuse health issues and community access,” they said.
The state also funds the Accordwest Youth Accommodation Support Service which provides a referral and assessment services into crisis or transitional accommodation.
The spokesperson said the government was committed to ending the cycle of homelessness and was working with the sector to develop a 10 year State Homelessness Strategy. They said the state was also developing an Action Plan for At Risk Youth which would strengthen services and systems relating to young people in WA.
“The Action Plan will identify a number of actions to improve the lives of young people at extreme risk with multiple and complex needs, including young people with repeated contact with the child protection and youth justice systems, Aboriginal young people and their families, care leavers, young parents and homeless young people,” they said.
However, Ms Mettam said it wasn’t enough and more needed to be done immediately.
“I have written to the Minister for Police and Minister for Child Protection regarding this issue and invited her to visit the centre and to see first-hand the urgent need to address the gap in local support services for our youth,” she said.
“In the meantime I have also written to our local community groups to see if there is some way that they are able to provide support.”
“Part of the support program for our vulnerable youth is also through the provision of Youth Crime Intervention Officers currently all based in Bunbury. I will continue to advocate for at least one of these officers to be based in Busselton.”
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