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Byron Shire
December 9, 2023

Youth enterprise program about to be axed

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Byron Youth Service’s Di Mahoney and Deborah Pearse. Photo Eve Jeffery

Paul Bibby

Byron Youth Service (BYS) is seeking help from the community to save a longstanding youth enterprise program that is about to have its government funding cut.

The Youth Enterprise Project (YEP) has helped thousands of local kids kick-start their small business ideas, access training, and connect with mentors since it commenced in 2005.

It has also supported the popular Byron Flea Market, which runs monthly at the Youth Activity Centre.

But all of these activities are facing closure owing to the imminent axing of a $100,000 grant from the NSW Department of Social Services.

The grant will expire in March and BYS is now asking the community to help it save the program by providing donations, sponsorships or volunteer hours.

Senior youth worker Deb Pearse said that more than 400 youth had participated in YEP initiatives in the past 12 months alone.

‘There are so many young people who have benefited from these programs and there are so many more who stand to benefit from them in the future,’ Ms Pearse said.

‘It’s not only the knowledge and experience they get from training and mentoring.

‘The Flea Market is a really important space that local youth have made their own. It’s become part of their sense of identity and part of their sense of belonging to Byron Shire.

‘We’re turning to the community and seeking financial support to keep our programs running for the next generation.’

Street Cruise

Ms Pearse said the service’s Street Cruise program was also at risk of termination without more funding.

Providing support and food to kids in need on the streets of Byron Bay since 2001, the program has fallen into financial deficit in recent months.

Ms Pearse said it was now more important than ever for the Street Cruise to continue their work given unfortunate recent incidents involving young people and police.

‘We’re in a position where we can intervene by talking to kids and calming them down a bit so that things don’t get out of hand,’ she said.

‘This is a time when we need to be expanding these types of programs not closing them down.’

The youth service is pursuing a number of options for funding to support Street Cruise including grants and further support from Byron Shire Council.

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