Council meeting to help highlight Whitsunday youth issues
BOWEN youth were given the opportunity to voice their concerns and understand the region's decision making when they sat in on a Whitsunday Regional Council meeting last Wednesday.
The meeting followed on from a successful youth forum run by the PCYC Bowen, as part of its Safer Communities program.
Queensland research published by the Australian Institute of Criminology which looked at chronic offenders who started in their teenage years found that about two-thirds of them offended in the same community over the next few decades.
PCYC Bowen Safer Communities program manager, Madonna McLeod, said the community experienced a spike in crime during school holiday periods.
"As part of the youth forum, we gathered data from Queensland Police Service and found that there was a rise in juvenile crime during holidays," she said.
"Overall, Bowen actually has an incredibly low rate of youth crime but we wanted to investigate why there was this rise in the holidays.
"We had a wide variety of youth involved in the project and we started asking them questions about why they thought this might be, as well as other issues that they had come across."
Mrs McLeod said that two major talking points arose from the forum - the lack of out of school activities in Bowen for teenagers and a lack of understanding about how to access services and facilities.
"The PCYC Bowen has created a program of activities we will be rolling out in the second week of the school holidays to help address some of the issues around boredom, so look out for that," she said.
"But once we had conducted the forum we promised the young people that we would show the people in the community who could make a difference, and that's where the mayor and Whitsunday Regional Council came in."
A total of 16 young people attended the September 11 ordinary meeting, aged between 11 and 16.
They were given the opportunity to listen to the council agenda, see how decisions are deliberated and voted upon, understand the council process and hear information on numerous community topics.
When the council adjourned for morning tea the youth were given the opportunity to discuss issues they found of importance to the community.
Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox said he was 'very impressed' with the way the young people expressed themselves.
"They were a little timid when we began but once they realised we were here to listen and we're normal people, they really opened up," Cr Willcox said.
"They were very passionate about a crossing at the park from McDonald's so that no one gets hit, and we've referred that on to be assessed.
"They also told us about some less fortunate people that they think we should have a greater focus on as well."
Cr Willcox said he was very happy to listen to the youth of Bowen.
"We want to see positive interactions with our youngest residents, and them telling us what they want is the first step," he said.
"We might not be able to make the change straight away, but we can budget it, advocate for it and even look for state and federal funding in the future."