Local youth representatives have told Byron Shire Council that young people need their own housing advice service to help them navigate the shire’s treacherous housing market.
Made during the annual ‘Youth Say’ presentation by students from Mullumbimby High School, the comments highlighted how significantly the housing crisis is affecting teenagers in the local area.
‘The young people in our area are already seeing the housing market as an issue,’ one student, Katie, told the meeting. ‘A lot of young locals are moving away because they’re unable to afford houses in the shire and are unprepared for the competitiveness that they’re facing in our market.’
Another Mullum High student said that a housing advice program or tutor was needed so that young people looking to move out of home could speak to someone experienced in real estate to get advice about how to present professionally and apply for places to rent.
‘This is extremely important to us because we want to be able to stay in the shire and live close to home when we graduate,’ the student said. ‘We can already recognise how hard it’s going to be for us.’
The students told Council that the other big issue facing young people was safe public transport.
‘My peers and I all live in Byron Shire but we have no way to enjoy it safely at night,’ said Matilda, a local 16-year-old.
‘If our shire had more reliable street lights placed in places such as parks, public toilets and main streets, everyone would be able to appreciate our shire in the hours after dark while feeling safe. The lights will potentially limit the amount of illegal activity happening in these areas at night time, making the lit-up areas safer.’
‘With the aid of reliable public transport that operates later than currently, people will be able to safely go out at night.’
The students praised the Youth Say program, which has seen them engage with councillors, staff and other locals during the course of the year. They suggested that the program could provide a blueprint for an expanded program to give youth across the shire a greater say in local affairs.
‘With more youth having a voice in what the Council does and what it can lobby to the state, it will make the Byron Shire a better and safer place for all resident – future and current.’