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Thursday, 23 September 1999
Page: 10438

Mrs GASH (5:55 PM) —Tonight I speak on behalf of a young lady aged 17 who is in year 11 at St Johns Evangelist School in Nowra. Her name is Kim Payne and she is sitting in the gallery tonight. These are her words; this is her story:

In Mrs Gash's electorate of Gilmore, there has been a conflict.

No news breaking headlines of violence, yet a conflict that is important on a local scale.

The two areas coming into conflict are tourism and youth, both of equal importance.

Tourism now, and the youth for the future.

All too often young people in their teens and early twenties are stereotyped, downtrodden and downgraded.

Recently, youth groups in her electorate have tried to break down these preconceived ideas by working to provide their own facilities such as sporting complexes for the use of the younger members in the community.

The conflict has arisen where tourism associations are afraid of the effect the facilities would have on business highlighting aspects such as noise and pollution.

The youth support the tourist industry.

In the holidays local businesses employ more of the young people to cope with the influx of tourists.

The youth are more than happy to oblige, as they could do with the extra money and it provides something to do during the holidays.

But, who wants to spend the whole of their school break doing even more work.

So, the youth need a place for recreation.

Some youth groups showed the initiative and started organising places for their benefit.

All was going well until they found the people that they support by working for them will not return that support for fear that having young people around, will bring down their business.

A group of hopefuls in the small tourist town of Kangaroo Valley spent many hours working over an application for a grant to construct a netball facility.

There was a catch though, the safety of young people had to be compromised due to the fact the preferred position, the safer of the options, was found to be a heritage park designed for visitors to the area, so the netball facility failed.

Just over the mountain in the city Nowra, also tourist orientated, another youth group was experiencing similar problems.

For two and half years a group had been fighting for a skating facility to take the skaters off the main streets.

There is a lovely huge park that would make an ideal place for a Skate Park except that it would supposedly disturb the nearby motels.

These are both examples of where the needs of youth have been put on the backburner for tourism.

Groups like these two encourage young people to work with Council in the future.

It is like starting a snowball rolling. Early positive responses will see more communication with more young people.

If one group succeeded with its goals, other groups would see that it isn't impossible and dreams are attainable.

This encourages more youth groups to give it a go.

While doing this, not only do they obtain the facilities wanted they learn to use their initiative, they will also learn skills such as leadership and interpersonal skills.

By obstructing the youths' journey towards achieving their goals adults will rupture their confidence, belief in themselves and continue the stereotype of the no-hoper young person.

The main organisation involved in putting the youth's ideas to fruition would be the local government, the Council.

In the Saulwick Poll conducted by the Sydney Morning Herald, people aged between eighteen and twenty four were asked "Which level of government do you think ordinary people can have the most influence on?"

85% of respondents stated the local government.

Less than 10% said the State government.

Less than 10% said the Federal government.

It is sad to see that the level of government the youth think they have the most influence on is the one that currently is letting them down the most.

When eighteen to twenty-four year-olds were asked about the amount of power the local government had, although the majority said they had about the right amount, 36% said they had too little but no one said that they had too much. So the balance is about right.

The Council often supports youth initiated ideas.

But where the tourist associations and tourism business is concerned, local government will rule against the young people's ideas on the majority of occasions.

Our net ball court and the skate facility are examples where the local government has chosen tourism over young people's needs.

If there is a chance, perhaps the tourism association and the youth should work together to aim for a win/win situation, aiming to close the gap within a community.

Until then, the younger people of Mrs Gash's electorate should be encouraged in the stand they are taking to break down the stereotypes.

As the youth are the future, they need the encouragement and the support from the people closest around them.

The ones in the local community and local council.

As I said, these were the words of Kim Payne, who is currently sitting in the gallery and who has been with us all week in Parliament House.

House adjourned at 6.00 p.m.