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Flying start for Pakenham youth hub


June 6, 2018 by admin

Top choice: Ryan, 15, successfully suggested ‘My Place’ as the name for Cardinia Shire’s youth centre. Picture: Rob CarewWORLD champion aerial skier Jacqui Cooper says a new centre in Pakenham could be as good for young people as the Victorian Institute of Sport was for her.

On Friday, Ms Cooper helped officially launch My Place, which will provide information, advice, and support for young people aged 10-25.

She said she did not have an equivalent centre in bayside Melbourne when she was growing up but understood the importance of having a ‘one-stop shop’.

“You might think the Victorian Institute of Sport is very different from My Place, but they’re exactly the same. I became a world champion because of the services that were offered to me, and this centre will help young people become champions at life.”

Ms Cooper, who is the shire’s healthy-living ambassador, said My Place was a great coup for youth in the area. “They can engage, develop, learn and socialise right here without having to travel.”

The $2 million centre in Main Street will be the first point of referral for young people.

Several service providers have already moved in. Among them are the Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre, TaskForce Community Agency, LINK Employment and Training, Early In Life Mental Health, Marillac and the South East Drug and Alcohol Service.

The centre has meeting rooms and a free internet cafe and will host a range of weekly after-school activities. Its name was suggested by Pakenham Secondary College student Ryan, and the 15 year old’s name was included on a plaque unveiled at the opening.

Friday’s event was also the launch of the council’s 2012-16 youth strategy, which aims to cater for the estimated 25,500 young people who will be living in the shire by 2021.

Cr Brett Owen said the launch of My Place was the fifth and final goal of the previous strategy.

“With five families moving into Cardinia Shire daily, it’s important young people have the opportunity to gain access to services in their own backyard.

“Many of our young people were either missing out altogether or travelling outside the shire.”

Bass MP Ken Smith, representing Youth Affairs Minister Ryan Smith, said the state government had supported the development of My Place with a $330,000 community support grant. “It’s fantastic to have a space that young people can call their own. Young people navigating their way through the services they need can find it pretty daunting.”


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