CENTRAL Goldfields organisations have banded together to trial a youth hub in Maryborough, in the hopes it will help build a business case for a permanent development.
A centralised place for youth services has long been identified as a priority within the shire, which is among the most disadvantaged areas of the state.
An alliance has formed to improve outcomes for young people, led by Go Goldfields, local government, the Youth Support and Advocacy Service, Anglicare, and Maryborough District Health Service.
Together, they are establishing a pop-up youth hub in the Maryborough Town Hall.
The hub is expected to operate for six months from early December.
Go Goldfields collaborative table chair and Central Goldfields Shire chief administrator, Noel Harvey said much of how the hub would operate had yet to be decided.
Consultants had been engaged to create an operating plan, with an emphasis on young people's input.
"A key part of the process will be engaging over those six months," Mr Harvey said.
He encouraged young people to get on board.
"It is essential that this pop-up integrated services model is trialled before a business case is formed," Mr Harvey said.
"We need to know that the services and the young people that this is being provided for will benefit in ways that are meaningful and potentially sustainable."
I believe passionately the solution to problems in Maryborough are there in the community itself.Noel Harvey, Central Goldfields Shire Council
He expected some services would move to the pop-up youth hub for the duration of the trial.
Part of the challenge in Central Goldfields was the fragmented nature of services, Mr Harvey said.
There were multiple providers, some of which were delivering outreach services within the shire a day a week.
Mr Harvey said Maryborough lacked an appropriate space where providers could deliver youth services.
"Some of them are sitting in McDonalds because there is nowhere else to go," he said. YSAS Bendigo's Kerry Donaldson expected services like the one she managed would continue working from wherever young people felt most comfortable, even once the pop-up hub was operational.
She imagined the pop-up hub would be more of a base for service providers. Areas appropriate for activities for young people were more likely to be a feature of a permanent hub.
Ms Donaldson said an integrated service approach would be "so beneficial" for the shire.
"I think the hub will make it easier for young people to access support they need and youth services to be better coordinated," she said.
Ms Donaldson said YSAS was looking forward to being one of a range of youth-focused services at the hub.
Maryborough District Health Service chief executive Terry Welch said it was hoped a youth hub would tackle a range of issues, including those impacting on young people's mental health.
Long-term, it was hoped a hub would help address social isolation and promote feelings of belonging and purpose.
The trial was not going to stop members of the alliance from lobbying government to back a youth hub, Mr Harvey said.
Alliance members have funded the pop-up youth hub.
Mr Harvey said the trial had been pulled together on a shoestring.
"We're hoping we will have sufficient funds," he said.
The initiative was one of a number of ways the shire's chief administrator said people and organisations in Central Goldfields were trying to find solutions to complex issues.
Mr Harvey and council community wellbeing general manager Martin Collins provided evidence to the state inquiry into sustainable employment for disadvantaged jobseekers.
"Central Goldfields Shire is at the bottom of the table in regard to every measure of disadvantage that exists in our system," Mr Harvey told the parliamentary committee.
He said there was a significant number of young people in Maryborough who were third generation unemployed and had no experience of working life.
However, there were initiatives that were helping to turn aspects of the situation around.
Mr Harvey said a Go Goldfields initiative had decreased the percentage of children going into the first year of school without an appropriate level of literacy from 80 per cent to 30 per cent.
"I believe passionately the solution to problems in Maryborough are there in the community," he said.
It was a matter of developing capacity to address them.
Mr Collins suggested more effectively targeted and resourced initiatives could help tackle the issues.
He told the committee there was a fragmented approach, with 18 separate state or federally funded employment service providers operating in the shire for about 800 jobseekers.
Mr Collins said programs also had to align with where help was needed within the community, like positive modelling.
"The challenge is how we have the flexibility at a local level to support kids from school to enable them to get a work placement and stay there and not go home at lunch if something has happened that they didn't like," he said.
He said simply matching a person with a vacancy and helping with their CV and interview skills to get them in the door was not what was needed.
"It's about having longer-term interventions with skill support," Mr Collins said.
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