Tamworth youth council to 'give local kids a voice'

FUTURE LEADERS: Youth worker backs council initiative to uncover local youth issues.

FUTURE LEADERS: Youth worker backs council initiative to uncover local youth issues.

TAMWORTH youth workers have said the recently-established regional youth council has huge potential for benefit in the community.

Council recently rubber-stamped a recommendation to form a local youth council after the idea was raised at the Tamworth Regional Youth Summit earlier this year.

The summit determined “there was a lack of consultation with young people on youth-related issues and projects”, and that a youth council would present an opportunity to provide local kids with a “real voice”.

Tamworth Family Support Service (TFSS) youth hope team leader Trish Heffernan backed the initiative and said there could be many positives in giving local children a say on their issues.

“Sometimes, you find organisations or councils set up events for youth without properly consulting with young people, so they can miss the mark a little bit,” Ms Heffernan.

“It’s like getting a 60-year-old to try and organise an 18th birthday party.”

Ms Heffernan said it would play a big role in uncovering and working on local youth issues and would add to the work of current services in the region aimed at young people.

“There is some limited outlets, but a lot are insular sort of things,” she said.

In a her line of work, Ms Heffernan has seen a number of issues affecting local youth including sexuality and children “trying to find where they fit in”.

“There’s lots of issues in regards to drugs and peer pressure,” Ms Heffernan said.

The youth worker said the newly-established conduit for young people’s concerns should play a role across all council issues.

“[The youth council] should be giving their opinion on all matters and it should be valued,” she said.

“They should be experiencing all aspects of council and get a greater perspective of what council does.”

There was still some more detail Ms Heffernan wanted to know about the recently-established youth council and said it would be important to give the chosen representatives at least 12-month-long terms.

“They need enough time to be able to follow a project right through to its delivery,” Ms Heffernan said.

“If they can take on the responsibility and have ownership, they will be more likely to do it. They should be valued for whatever their opinion is and they should be able to have discussions about why they can or can’t do certain things.”

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