COUNCILLORS have committed to spending up to $30,000 earmarked for youth projects on “youth services mapping,” which could see the council cut youth service funding levels in the future.
First published in the 27 February edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Get your copy today from retailers across Baw Baw.
The funds allocation comes despite a report to councillors stating the Baw Baw Youth Action Committee was “under-resourced to fulfil diverse youth participation,” a 2013 Youth Leadership Forum’s conclusion that youth wanted more involvement in decision making, and the imminent cessation of the FReeZA youth engagement program.
On moving the motion to approve funding for the mapping from “unallocated budget funds for youth programs” at Wednesday’s council meeting, deputy mayor Joe Gauci said councillors were looking for efficiencies.
“Since we came into council, we have been trying to find the best and most efficient way to get out to the youth in our community,” he said.
“That has been difficult.
“We’ve found a lot of the youth groups that used to operate in the area have fallen away. [We want to] find out what each group offers, how they can benefit the youth in the area, and find out where the gaps are.”
Warragul ward councillor Mikaela Power and Drouin’s Tricia Jones were the only two councillors present at the meeting to oppose the motion.
“I would much rather spend this money on youth,” Cr Power said.
“Everyone knows the groups involved. We’re spending on mapping, not doing stuff for kids.”
Asked by the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen why the council did not simply look at the websites of the organisations servicing the area, mayor Debbie Brown said the mapping was about connections and the results could mean less youth funding from the council.
“I will challenge you to sit down and find out what everyone in the shire does,” Cr Brown said.
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