The Youth Council, comprising 13 students from seven schools meet formally four times during the year in the Murwillumbah or Tweed Heads council chambers to discuss matters of concern and interest for Tweed youth.
The matter of personal safety for youth on public transport was a priority issue of 2021 Youth Council.
Members were able to speak directly with the Manager for Road Safety at Transport for NSW, Penny Sutton, telling her of their personal experiences and specific examples brought to the Youth Council about concerns using public transport in the Tweed.
The Youth Council compiled a table of issues for Transport for NSW and sought their assistance in finding solutions and implementing changes where possible.
These issues were also raised with Surfside Buslines Gold Coast South Manager William Todd, who attended a Youth Council meeting to hear concerns and possible solutions.
Mental health a major issue
Another major issue was mental health, particularly during the COVID-19 restrictions and the impact it was having on youth.
A focus was where youth could go to get help for mental health both within and outside the school environment.
There was concern that seeking help through school counsellors raised stigma issues with students wanting to keep issues to themselves.
There was also a question about whether the title “School Counsellor’ is the most appropriate name given the stigma that can be attached to anyone seeking guidance.
Youth Councillors said this was adding to the problem, creating stress, and greater awareness was needed to ensure that counselling procedures were kept as private as possible.
They suggested that mental health support should be introduced to Year 7 students, just starting out in secondary schools.
Tweed Shire Councillors supported the Youth Council plan to work with key stakeholders to address concerns relating to ‘Young people feeling safe in their community’ regarding the areas of public transport and youth mental health.
Praised for Youth Council as community leaders
During the year, the Youth Council hosted the Member for Lismore, Janelle Saffin who praised the members and their role as community leaders.
Ms Saffin encouraged the members to continue to play an active role in the community as voices for youth and commended them for volunteering to be on the Youth Council.
The group also met with Council’s Recreation Planner, Jodie Hewett, to learn about the Youth Outdoor Recreation Action Plan co-design workshop opportunities for young people and how they could contribute to the development of the Plan.
Three Youth Council members participated in facilitator training and helped to co-facilitate the actual co-design workshops for young people.
The Plan involves looking at better access to facilities, design of facilities, events in parks and creating or expanding facilities such as skating parks, bushwalking trails and pathways.
The 2021 Youth Council:
- Montana Markland, Chair (Pacific Coast Christian School),
- Dawn Cosham, Tom Nguyen (St Joseph’s College),
- Madison Bambach, Julia Wilder-Donvito (Wollumbin High),
- Oska Proietto, Imogene Pain (Banora Point High),
- Abby Pirotta, Daniel Green (Lindisfarne),
- Logan Wright, Deputy Chair and Daniel Daley (Murwillumbah High).
- Rykah Ross, Jorja Campbell (Tweed River High).
To find out more about the Tweed Youth Council, visit tweed.nsw.gov.au/youth-council