AYAC calls for greater resourcing of youth services in rural and remote communities

AYAC today joined with the Central Australian Youth Link-Up Service (CAYLUS) to call for fair and equitable resourcing of youth services in rural and remote communities

Governments Must Invest in Desert Dwellers

In Central Australia effective youth programs are a matter of life and death.

They enable young people to stay connected and to avoid the pitfalls of boredom, and the drug and alcohol abuse that it breeds. Half of the population in these communities is aged under 25. Youth is the future here.

“Investing in these young people to help them lead happy and productive lives is a savvy economic strategy” said Central Australian Youth Link-up Service co-ordinator Mr Blair McFarland today.  “The financial cost – and the human misery – of failing to do so is massive.”

“There is ample evidence that youth programs promote social engagement, reduce rates of substance abuse and crime, and provide a happier, healthier environment for young people.”

The Federal Government’s own research bears this out.

As policy makers work to develop an extended NTER intervention strategy, McFarland called on the Federal Government to re-fund and expand the $30M ‘Youth in Communities’ (YIC) program, which is currently slated to conclude at the end of 2012.

“It’s critical that the YIC program be expanded to provide services to those communities that have so far missed out.” said Mr McFarland. “It makes good economic sense to invest in young people so that they can realise their full potential.”

Andrew Cummings, Executive Director of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition echoes this need for expansion. “Equitable resourcing is essential to address the needs of young people living in remote and regional communities both in the NT and across Australia” said Mr Cummings today.

Currently, some communities enjoy state-of-the art youth programs, while others miss out completely.  Yuendumu enjoys a model youth development service with a new recreation hall, swimming pool, night school, and infrastructure to support the youth workers who live in the community. But the neighbouring communities of Laramba and Yuelamu have very few services. The opportunity for these kids to ‘close the gap’ is severely restricted

“We urge the federal government to act swiftly and purposefully to ensure that the next generation of young Aboriginal people have the skills to become productive contributors to the wider Australian community” concluded Mr McFarland.

Media contacts

Blair McFarland – CAYLUS Coordinator: 0448 526 493  blair@caylus.org.au

Andrew Cummings – AYAC Executive Director 0435 146 979 andrew@ayac.org.au

To download the full media release – click here