report from the roundtable - 25 Aug
At it’s meeting this week, Council considered whether the shire should continue to hire out halls for teenage parties. Officers recommended that we no longer accept bookings for teenage birthday parties. I'm saddened to say that the majority of councillors supported the recommendation and by doing so have turned there back on teenagers and the real issues affecting them.
In arguing against the motion I talked about the Shire's Action and Policy Plan for Young People that was endorsed by council back in 2007. The plan is based on the principles that council:will work in partnership with young people
will support young people to be connected to their communities
recognises and values the important growth period of adolescence
will continue to provide a diverse range of accessible services, encouraging ownership, responsibility and participation to young people
A move to ban teenage birthday parties defies these principles and turns our back on teenagers throughout the shire.
When the Action and Policy Plan for Young People was being developed in 2007, young people across the shire came up with the following Youth Charter:
Our community is a place of natural beauty, culture and history.
A place where we live and belong.
Young People in the Shire of Yarra Ranges are passionate, diverse, active and proud.
We respect and celebrate our similarities and differences.
We are people who dream, participate, learn and create.
We are here, we are involved and we have a say for today and the future.
We embrace community spirit.
Valuing our families, friends and the environment.
Everyone working together.
I wonder how many young people we consulted when we came up with a policy to ban teenage parties, I suspect we didn’t ask any of them. I have to wonder how committed we are to working together with our young people.
Our young people are more likely to leave school earlier, disengage from work or education, be involved in at risk behaviors, demonstrate self harm behaviours, exhibit depressive symptoms and be at risk of homelessness. They are already disenfranchised, to shut our community hall doors to them will disenfranchise them even more. I would even go so far to say that banning teenage parties from our halls contravenes their human rights.
Council's Action and Policy Plan for Young People is underpinned by the principles of participation, leadership, equity, respect, accessibility, advocacy and partnership. A move to close our halls to teenagers undermines these principles and makes a mockery of the plan.
Back when the Action and Policy Plan for Young People was endorsed by council, the Mayor of the day, Cr Heenan, talked about council being "committed to working with young people". Council's vision for young people is "Young People are an integral part of the rich diversity that makes up the population of the Shire of Yarra Ranges. The Shire is a place that welcomes supports and encourages young people to be involved in and contribute to all aspects of community life".
How much are we supporting and encouraging young people by shutting the door on them?
In the last year our halls were used on 3,147 occasions, only twice was there a problem, to consider banning teenagers is a complete overreaction to the issue of hall damage.
The Shire's Drug and Alcohol Working Group, of which I'm chairperson, recognises that the real way to change behaviour is through early intervention, education and health promotion. Closing our halls to teenagers will do nothing to address the problem real problems behind hall damage and underage alcohol use.
Closing our halls to teenage parties will not stop underage drinking, it won’t stop vandalism fueled by alcohol. We should be putting measures in place to address the problem, not turning our back on the entire population of teenagers with a blanket ban on use of our community halls.
Where will this end? Will we stop all adults using footy/cricket clubs (shire facilities) as a few drunk young adults make their way home and take it out on local letterboxes, fences, rubbish bins and whatever else gets in their way? I don't think so, this is aimed fairly and squarely at young people and rather than being proactive to solve the problem, council has chosen a shut door policy and turned its back on shire teenagers.
Councillors who voted to ban teenagers from our halls: Cr Len Cox, Cr Chris Templer, Cr Terry Avery, Cr Richard Higgins, Cr Graham Warren and Cr Tim Heenan.
Councillors who voted against the ban: Cr Samantha Dunn, Cr Jeanette McRae and Cr Noel Cliff.
PostScript: Since this motion was resolved at council on Tuesday night I have learnt that the two incidences in the past year referred to in the council officer’s report were not teenage parties. So it seems we have a report to council alluding to troublesome teenage parties and the fact of the matter is the two occasions referred to happened to be a 21st birthday party and a hiring under the category 'other'. This is a dark day for the shire indeed.
Labels: community halls, samantha dunn, teenagers, young people