Community initiative puts focus on youths

Our Kids Need You members from left, South West Local Learning and Employment Network’s Kerri Bauer, Leading Senior Constable Terry Woodcroft, Glastonbury Child and Family Services’ Kay Widdicombe, Colac Area Health’s Tina Blainey and Colac Otway Shire Council’s Chris Smith.

OUR kids need you.

That’s the name and the message of a new Colac community group aiming to engage with Colac and district’s youth.

Our Kids Need You includes representatives from 12 organisations, including Colac police, Colac Otway Shire Council, Colac Area Health, the Department of Education, Glastonbury Child and Family Services and South West Local Learning and Employment Network.

The group’s chairman Chris Smith said members wanted to maximise the potential of young people in Colac and district.

“The group wasn’t brought about because the issues young people face here are particularly worse than anywhere else, but because we can do the best for our young people when there is a collaborative approach by the whole community,” Cr Smith said.

“So we have a steering committee made up of representatives from a range of organisations, then we also have community forums every two months where the whole community is invited to raise any issues or suggestions they might have,” he said.

He said the group would form sub-committees to tackle key issues people raised at the community forums.

“Our first forum was great, and we already have some priorities that we’re looking at, which include a simple service directory across the board of youth services offered in the community,” Cr Smith said.

“Another one involves the issue of children at primary schools and keeping them engaged in school on an everyday basis, we’ll be working out how large the problem is and how we can help families make sure their children are at school on time and they’re there every day,” he said.

“We don’t want to re-duplicate any of the great programs already operating in Colac, we just want all of the groups to be aware of each other’s work and help ensure we’re all moving in the same direction.”

The group’s next community forum is on September 6 from 1pm at Elliminyt Primary School’s Education and Events Centre.

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