The Department for Child Protection (DCP) has collaborated with SA Police and several other support agencies in Whyalla, to open a dedicated space for youth in the Westland Shopping Centre.
The new space –Youth Central – will be open on a trial basis and will be staffed by volunteers and police, who will engage local youths and link them in with support services if required.
Youth Central features beanbags, games, food and drink and will be staffed by police and other agencies, including volunteers from DCP’s Whyalla office, between 2pm and 7pm on Thursday and Friday.
If successful, the space will be reopened over the summer holidays.
SAPOL Operations Inspector Mark Hubbard said he hoped the space would provide welcome support for young people living in Whyalla.
“If the children or young people come here we can give them food but more importantly, look at any additional needs they may have” he said.
“Are they being cared for by their parents? Have they got somewhere to live? Are they attending school? A lot of those underlying issues can affect them.
“The intent of the project was to provide an opportunity for positive engagement with young people in the shopping centre and working with them to troubleshoot the issues that are causing antisocial behaviour."
DCP Whyalla Manager Jenny Knight said volunteers attached to the office had been rostered on shifts with workers from other local agencies.
“DCP Volunteers are excited to be part of this community initiative and see the benefits of engaging and developing relationships, with not only the young people of Whyalla, but also the other agencies involved in this concept,” Jenny said.
Youth Central is a collaboration between Westlands Shopping Centre, Whyalla City Council, Centacare, DCP, the Local Drug Action Team and Youth Justice.