Action to assist youth recovery after the summer’s devastating bushfires must be “realistic and achievable”.
Eurobodalla’s youth sector workers – including public and private service representatives, high schools, TAFE and police – joined Eurobodalla Council’s youth services team at a forum in Moruya on Thursday 13 February.
Council’s manager of community development Kim Bush said youth had short, medium and long-term requirements that need to be met.
“The kids are really appreciating the structure and routine of being back at school. What is clear is many of the kids are exhausted; teachers are saying it’s like the seventh week of term four rather than the start of the year,” Ms Bush said.
“For those not directly affected, the highway closures over summer still prevented them attending sports, catching up with friends or going on holidays. With business down turn, those older kids employed as seasonal casuals lost out on work and money.”
Ms Bush said around 40 people attended Thursday’s forum and identified key steps in youth recovery.
“We need more input from young people so they participate in the process and help design what happens going forward. We’ve arranged another forum for Thursday 27 February,” Ms Bush said.
“We’ve also invited youth and community workers from Bega Valley Shire to attend. By connecting with neighbouring councils, with similar experiences, we strengthen our advocacy for assistance across the south east region.”
Ms Bush said communication was key.
“Different organisations and services are putting out information and putting on events, but sometimes agencies turn up with little or no notice and that’s overwhelming our schools and communities,” she said.
“By coming together as a collective group we can coordinate effort and funding so it remains targeted and not duplicated or wasted.
“We’re still collating the forum data to develop the principles that will take our collective efforts forward. We’ll be looking at what has worked for those communities that have already been through this, then tailor actions to our needs so we can attract appropriate services and funding.”
Ms Bush said the positivity within the sector was heartening.
“For Thursday’s forum, we had a one-word check-in and check-out. Every single attendee left feeling positive and inspired to get on with the job.”
Above: A large group of youth sector workers met on Thursday 13 February to map out “realistic and achievable” strategies to ensure young people in Eurobodalla have access to the support and service they need to recover from this summer’s devastating bushfires.