Activating young ideas

Recognising that young people have a great deal to contribute to the community, Council provides a number of avenues for youth to explore and develop their interests. Respecting their ideas, the City can gain a lot from their enthusiasm and creativity. For a number of years, Cairns has run programs to empower young people and give them an opportunity to contribute to the community.

Principle among these are the Youth Action Committee and Graft 'n' Arts. Graft 'n' Arts provides resources for young people to pursue creative activity which encourages diversity, personal development, community awareness and consciousness of social issues.

From simple beginnings where it provided space and resources for young people to explore their artistic leaning, in areas such as music, dance and visual art, the service has grown to become an established icon in the North Queensland arts network.

Graft 'n' Arts is flexible and open to anyone with new ideas on how to utilise and diversify the available resources. The program is highly inclusive catering for young people across the North Queensland region. It takes care to be accessible to those who, through disability or other reason, might find barriers to participation in such projects.

Away from the creative attributes of young people, the Youth Action Committee taps into the ideas of young people with a social and political focus. Committee members range in age from 15 to 24, some at school or university, while others are in paid employment or engaged in voluntary work.

The Committee meets to discuss ways in which young people would like to see their City function. The emphasis is on the sorts of things which might be ignored in adult forums, such as public committees, service clubs and Government.

Not only do participants get to formulate their ideas and express them in a public forum, the Committee is a conduit to Council and other areas where their ideas can be implemented.

Committee members have liaised with similar groups in the United States, travelled to represent this region at youth forums, and taken an active role in civic life. They have assisted in the design of a new youth Library to be included in the refurbishment of the old Council Chambers.

The Committee is also encouraged to contribute ideas to other Departments, such as public relations and community services. For young people in Cairns, the Youth Action Committee provides an opportunity to make a difference from the perspective of the next generation and the chance to learn the skills necessary to take an active part in civic life.

For Council and others who appreciate their views, it is a chance to find out directly how services for young people can be targeted in the most effective way.

For further information contact Colette McCool, telephone (07) 4044 3044.