Struggle to fund youth services

Street Net Youth Services coordinator Jess Vati and Peel Youth Services chief executive Liz Prescott.
Street Net Youth Services coordinator Jess Vati and Peel Youth Services chief executive Liz Prescott.

YOUTH workers in the Peel region are desperately underfunded and are struggling to keep up with demand.

Peel Youth Services chief executive Liz Prescott said it was heartbreaking her team could not help all of the youth that needed help.

“It’s really challenging,” she said.

“There are never enough resources to keep up with the growing population.
“The funding does not keep up with it.”

Peel Youth Services runs programs such as Eyes Wide Open for young mothers, UTurn one-on-one outreach, Choyces empowering young women and counselling.

“We see about 400 youth every year, but there are 20,000 youth in the Peel region,” Ms Prescott said.

“In the past financial year we only received $800 in extra funding.

“But the need for our services has grown exponentially.”

Ms Prescott said with more funding her team would be able to help young people in regional towns, such as Waroona.

Street Net Youth Services coordinator Jess Vati said every youth service needed more capacity.

“When I started in this role 10 years ago, there were two police officers and a social worker,” she said.

“Now there’s just me.

“I have to spread myself thin and I can only do so much.

“I focus on what really needs doing.”

Ms Vati said Street Net could do much more with additional staff.

“We would be able to do more outreach work,” she said.

Street Net provides support and empowers young people.

Both women said the issues young people deal with stem from family and social conflict.

Ms Prescott said many young people were at risk due to family disfunction and domestic violence.

Ms Vati said bullying and peer pressure were significant issues faced by young people.

“It is atrocious how young people are treating each other,” she said.

“Bullying is prevalent.

“It’s quite sad how nasty people can be to each other.

“There needs to be more work in the community around respect, courtesy and being kind.”

City of Mandurah chief executive Mark Newman said council engages with the State Government’s Education Department and Department of Communities to advocate for appropriate targeted funding for a range of non-profit youth organisations, education providers and recreational organisations.

“Mandurah is generally well funded and has a well-regarded reach across a broad range of youth activities,” he said.

“However it is noted that the community would benefit from increased infrastructure funding that is specific to youth.”

The Department of Communities has been contacted for comment.