AT ISSUE: Hayley Bracken (left), 17, of Byron Bay, Matilda Stevens, 17, of Goonengerry, and Robert Grimshaw, 16, of
AT ISSUE: Hayley Bracken (left), 17, of Byron Bay, Matilda Stevens, 17, of Goonengerry, and Robert Grimshaw, 16, of

The Cinderella generation gap

By SAMANTHA TURNBULL

sturnbull@northernstar.com.au

HAYLEY BRACKEN is not a whinger.

The 17-year-old is the first to admit that young people in Byron Bay have it pretty good compared with the rest of the world.

"We live in a beautiful place. We're lucky we're not too far out in the country," she said.

"Byron Bay also has a thriving night life. The only problem is we want to be a part of it."

Matilda Stevens, 17, and Robert Grimshaw, 16, agreed.

They said Byron Bay was a great place to live, and that was why it attracted 1.7 million visitors each year.

However, Matilda said part of the problem of growing up in a tourist town was being overlooked.

"The community isn't about helping kids," she said.

"Tourism is their main priority."

Robert said problems that dominated headlines ? such as the brawl between TV personality Rex Hunt and a group of local teenagers ? rarely occurred and only at night.

"There are plenty of projects and courses the YAC (Youth Activities Centre) runs during the day, but there's not much exciting to do at night," he said.

"The cinemas were one of the best improvements in town. Other than that, CMoog used to have under-18 dance parties every now and then, but that's stopped now."

Robert would love to see a permanent under-18s venue established in Byron Bay, while Hayley simply wants more open-age events.

"All the places you can see bands are for over-18s, so we miss out," Hayley said.

"We need to be let in to see live entertainment. It doesn't always have to be bands or dance parties either, it could be theatre."

Byron Youth Service director Paul Spooner listed employment, affordable accommodation and transport as the main issues facing the town's young people.

However, he said a lack of entertainment was also a concern.

"There's a problem with access to entertainment for people under 18," he said.

"The YAC does put on bands occasionally, but everywhere else they appear is in an over-18s environment."

"We have a lower youth crime rate than most places, and we have the beach," Hayley said.

"We just need to be included and trusted."



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