Youth program axed

FUNDING has ceased for a service helping youth in at-risk situations on Friday and Saturday nights in Ballina.

The Ballina District Community Services Association (BDCSA), which has been operating the Street Beat program for 12 years, is appealing for community support to get the service back on the road.

BDCSA executive officer, Dianna Howell, said State government funding for the service stopped in September because of a change in funding criteria.

The BDCSA then funded the service for another month.

“Despite four separate applications for State and private funding, none of which has yet been successful, BDCSA lacks the financial resources to support the program on an on-going basis,” Ms Howell said.

The BDCSA has requested State funding of $73,000 to operate the service for two nights, with one paid youth worker and a volunteer.

However, she said any amount of money could see the service operate again on some scale.

The Street Beat service is a youth support outreach program.

Besides providing transport home in the Street Beach van for at-risk youth, the service also offers advocacy, referrals, First Aid, crisis support, mentoring and mediation, Ms Howell said.

“Street Beat has a positive effect on the larger community as well as our youth,” Ms Howell said.

“It helps protect businesses from anti-social behaviour and crimes, like vandalism and theft, by removing young people from situations where they are at risk of harm or committing harm to property or people.

The recent cases of vandalism in Ballina’s CBD highlight the need for services, such as Street Beat, aimed at prevention.”

 Ms Howell said the Street Beat service has had a close partnership with the police – the ‘beat’ starts and ends at Ballina police station.

“There has been a long and positive relationship between Street Beat and police,” she said.

“Street Beat staff, BDCSA and the local police believe that this contributes to the on-going diversion and prevention of youth crime in the area, to the safety of young people in the area and to the well-being of the broader community.”

Ballina councillor and youth worker, Peter Moore, was the manager of the then Ballina Youth Service in the BDCSA when Street Beat began.

He said there still was a need for the service.

In order to support the community and continue Street Beat, BDCSA was seeking corporate sponsorship from Ballina Shire businesses and individuals.

Street Beat needed to cover the costs of a paid worker, management of volunteers, and fuel, registration and insurance for the Street Beat bus. Any businesses in a position to contribute to the operation of the Street Beat program may contact the BDCSA chief executive Dianna Howell on 6681 5511.

BDCSA was also seeking community support, asking the State Government to provide funding for the vital program.

Please write to your local MP, Don Page, to support the State Government funding Street Beat again.

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