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Byron Shire
April 15, 2021

Youth service ‘on the precipice’

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Standing up for the kids: local screenwriter and producer Deb Cox has made a large donation to BYS after hearing it would fold without community support. Photo Eve Jeffery
Standing up for the kids: local screenwriter and producer Deb Cox has made a large donation to BYS after hearing it would fold without community support. Photo Eve Jeffery

Eve Jeffery & Hans Lovejoy

Savage cuts by current state and federal governments have eviscerated the vital work that Byron Youth Service (BYS) do for the area’s young people.

It’s hard to imagine that a wealthy country such as ours is unsupportive of the most vulnerable, but such is modern-day politics that lacks empathy, responsibility, or the knowledge that such actions create more social disparity and hardship in the long run.

In other words, everyone suffers when children are abandoned and their needs are ignored.

Byron Youth Service helps young adults when they are found drunk/stoned on the streets late at night, or when they are under threat at home. They also provide assistance to those who don’t fall within society’s narrow spectrum of ‘fitting in’.

Deb Pearse and her small team at BYS are now on the precipice of folding and have asked the community for help.

The good news is that a current online Indiegogo fundraiser has raised nearly $8,000 and local high-profile TV writer/producer Deb Cox has stepped up with a large cash donation. Additionally, Byron’s Bunnings have also contributed to the cause.

Ms Cox is calling on others with the financial means to dig deep. Ms Cox says, ‘I was moved to donate to Byron Youth Service after I heard co-ordinator, Deb Pearse, speak about the government funding cuts to the service on local ABC radio.’

‘I knew about their fantastic programs because I’ve been involved with them over the years wearing my professional “screenwriter” hat, but also because my husband and I raised our children here.’

Deb says she was both impressed and dismayed by the news that the BYS had launched a crowdfunding campaign.

Little raised so far

‘It’s a proactive and valiant attempt to survive, but I was disappointed to hear how little had been raised in the first few weeks. This is usually a generous and aware community, so perhaps it’s because there are so many other demands for donations – and so many worthy appeals – like Nepal.’

The fundraiser has several levels of ‘rewards’ on the website and, for her generosity, Ms Cox will receive space for an advertisement on the BYS bus; this she has gifted to her husband Anthony D’Orsogna for his Byron South Physiotherapy services.

Ms Cox feels that in a region that thrives on tourism, with such a huge focus on visitors and their needs, that it can be easy at times to lose sight of the young people who are trying to make the most of their lives, rather than just here for a holiday.

She says she knows from discussions with youth in the region that some of them certainly feel like a lesser priority.

‘The amount the BYS needs to survive is not huge and every dollar is multiplied by the help of volunteers, so if the service ends it will be such a waste of all that goodwill’, she said.

‘We know these programs make a difference because it’s right under our noses. If anyone needs convincing just look at the short film on the crowdfunding site.

‘There are young men and women with happier lives who might not be that way – or might not even be with us now – if it weren’t for the support of BYS. What can be more important than that?’

Dinner/auction

A fundraising dinner and art auction will be held on June 22 from 5.30pm at the Sun Bistro to raise funds for much- needed youth programs.

Artworks are needed for the night, and to help contact Steffie on 6685 7777 or email [email protected]

Flea market

Additionally, BYS have kicked off The Byron Flea, a new family-friendly market featuring retro, pre-loved, vintage, up-cycled and handmade goods.

The first Flea will be held at the Byron Youth Activity Centre, 1 Gilmore Crescent Byron Bay, on Saturday June 13 from 8am to 1pm. It will then be held on the second Saturday of each month.

 


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