It’s no secret that the Byron Youth Service is struggling after government cuts and reallocation of grants away from the Byron Shire.
Former director of the service and current Labor state candidate Paul Spooner feels that the problem goes deeper than funds management.
‘The current federal and state government is hell-bent on destroying small, local community-based organisations like BYS’, says Mr Spooner. ‘Their main focus is cost cutting and not ensuring quality program delivery and services to disadvantaged young people.
‘This is the logical result of cutting public service positions. The government needs to rationalise services because they don’t have the employees to manage funded programs so their preference is to fund large regional and national organisations.’
The Links to Learning program is one of the main projects lost, which will see youth at risk of leaving school or missing the chance to enter the workforce successfully.
‘Young people who access Links to Learning Community Grants Projects in 2015 will do so as a student enrolled in a government school’, says an Education Department spokesperson. ‘Arrangements for participation in projects are negotiated between the participating school and the organisation.’
The department received 266 applications from 112 not-for-profit, community-based organisations and local government authorities for the 2015–2016 Links to Learning Community Grants Program funding cycle.
The department says it ‘is responsible for the education of compulsory aged students and we do not assume the responsibility for those young people who have left school and are no longer engaged in education.’
Director of the BYS Jonathan Edwards has confirmed that BYS has received a further four months funding for their Youth Enterprise program to June 2015. The BYS is looking increasingly towards a fickle and depleted private sector for help.
‘We have witnessed this in the recent funding cuts to organisations delivering emergency relief in the area like the Byron Community Centre’, says Spooner. ‘This approach is destroying all the good work built up by our local community over the last 30 years and is inefficient and short sighted.’
Bunnings lends a hand
Fortunately, some private-sector help has emerged for the service, with a new business in town offering help to repaint the Youth Activity Centre, so it can be rented out for birthday parties and special events.
Local Bunnings staff, with a hand from Dulux Paints, descended on the YAC in Gilmore Crescent and now it is repainted and ready for action.
Chairs and tables that have been donated will enable the YAC to offer space at reasonable rates for events including 18th birthday parties, workshops, programs and conferences.
The money generated from these events will go back into BYS to support youth programs including Events Management, Hospitality, Street Cruise, Case Management and individual support.