Under-age and nowhere to go
By NERIDA BLOK
AT 15 years of age Mary Duggan is frustrated at being at 'the age of nowhere' in Lismore.
She is not a kid, yet she's not technically an adult.
"There is nothing to do in Lismore," said Mary, who is studying her Year 10 equivalent through Lismore TAFE.
"Kids our age, we can't go out and do anything unless we are 18. There is nowhere to go."
Mary said it would be great if the city offered an under-age nightclub.
"That would be pretty cool," she said.
"Somewhere at least for us to go and get us off the streets, especially at night."
A lack of entertainment, however, is just one of the issues facing Lismore youth, according to Lismore City Council's youth development worker, Annie McWilliam.
Ms McWilliam said the other major issues included a lack of youth space in the CBD, lack of public transport ? particularly between Lismore and Goonellabah ? high unemployment levels, and substance abuse, particularly alcohol.
She said the responsibility of meeting youth needs lay across all three tiers of government.
"But Lismore City Council has the responsibility for the well-being of young people in Lismore," she said.
"It funds small initiatives for young people in Lismore, usually through providing funding to non-government youth organisations.
"The council also provides infrastructure, such as the Memorial Baths, and provision and maintenance of local sporting facilities."
Ms McWilliam said the construction of a large recreational centre at Goonellabah was one of the projects directly targeting the needs of youth.
"Equally, council last year created a youth activity space in the CBD," she said.
"It's an interim space to be developed into the cultural precinct centre, but it shows the commitment of council to youth."
She said the council was also working on another project ? Closing the gap ? which worked in partnership with the Attorney-General's crime prevention program.
"That has seen council put considerable resources into coordinating educational services for young people out of school," she said.
The project, 'depending on funding', includes plans to build a youth cafe to be opened in Lismore early next year.
Council has also embarked on offering traineeships for young indigenous people wanting to be youth workers.