May 20 - 26, 2018: Issue 360

Avalon Youth Hub: The Door is OPEN

Lily Davis, Ian Bowsher and Justene Gordon

Avalon Youth Hub 

Opening hours for now are 
Monday 12-5 
Wednesday 3-5 (as well as a free BBQ running in Dunbar park with sausages and icecream) Thursday 3-5
59 Old Barrenjoey Road
Av. Rec. Centre (at front – sharing with Early Childhood centre)
Avalon Beach

If you call or email the Hub outside of these times your call and email will be picked up by the Youth Hub team based at the Burdekin Association (during office hours)
Phone: 0487 936 875

On Friday afternoon, to officially open the Avalon Youth Hub an event was held at the Avalon Annex building. The room was packed. The mood was buoyant – a sense of finally one step forward was taking place.

MC for the evening was a Year 9 Barrenjoey High school student in Lily Davis, who introduced Justene Gordon, CEO of the Burdekin Association, the lead agency for the Avalon Youth Hub. Justene is co-ordinating the means for young adults and families to navigate the health system for a range of needs they may have. 

We take vitamin c if a cold is coming on, get an ankle bandaged and rested if it's sprained. The range and scope of finding other services where and when we need them has been, until now, not so easy to access.

The Avalon Youth Hub aims to be a safe space for young people, their families and support persons, a go-to resource for help with a range of concerns in respect to a young person, not just in times of crises. Partnerships between services means young people are not going from one service to the other to access the help they need and getting even more stressed in the process.

Whether it's general feelings of confusion, anxiety or concern to matters relating to family conflict, homelessness, Drug and Alcohol issues, school issues, police matters, mental health or simply coming in to ask for advice about something - the Avalon Youth Hub has set as its Mission: To connect young people and their community to support services.

The northern beaches community has many youth services. The Avalon Youth Hub provides a location for many of these to deliver their services to the community of Pittwater.

"When you come to the Hub you will be greeted by a worker from either the Burdekin Association, Mission Australia, Community Care and Wellbeing or Catholic Care at the moment. " Justene said on Friday.

"That will grow in terms of the number of services available. They will have a chat with you and figure out what support you may need. If you need a specialist service they will let you know what services exist and help you connect with the right service. Many services are going to be able to meet you here, in the Avalon Hub."

"At this stage not all services may be able to come and you may need to travel. Over time more and more will be available here and basing themselves in the Avalon Youth Hub."

The aim of the Youth Hub is to:
• Provide user-friendly access to social support services in a safe space for young people, their families and support persons in the upper Northern Beaches,
• Facilitate cooperation and communication between key stakeholders and service providers,
• Increase mental wellness, awareness and acceptance through destigmatising seeking help.

The Youth Hub is more than linking young people and their family/carers and friends to professional service support. It aims to assist in building a community and support network within the Pittwater area for our young people.

As Lily explained; 
"The Avalon Youth Hub may be located in the Recreation centre, however, when possible the support will be offered into schools, homes or even just at the park (Dunbah)."

Over a year ago Justene met Ian Bowsher, Principal at Barrenjoey High School, who insisted that youth services do something for the community he is passionate about. 

"The Avalon Youth Hub is here because he asked that something be done." Justene said.

" The executive committee of the Avalon Youth Hub, which consists of the Burdekin Association, the Primary Health Network, Child Youth Mental Health Service and the Northern Beaches Youth Interagency had a meeting recently where the unanimous decision was made to appoint Ian Bowsher as Patron of the Avalon Youth Hub. We hope you will accept this title as you will be forever recognised as the person who got a permanent youth service into the Pittwater area."

Justene asked Mr. Bowsher to say a few words, prompting him with; "Ian, I ask you – what does this service mean to you as a school Principal in this community?"

Mr. Bowsher said, 
"First of all let me say that I think the 18th of May 2018 is going to be a very special day. It’s a very special day for all the people in our community, for all of Avalon and all the surrounding areas that are here. I think our voices will now finally be heard and I think our kids voices will permanently be heard, which is really important to me, and to you.

"In answer to your question Justene, as a Principal of a school where lots of students, where 1 in 4, so 25% of students, are suffering in one way or another throughout their times in high school and in primary school, where youth ill health and homelessness is on the rise, alcohol issues are on the rise – there are a list of concerns that we have. 

"What I dreamed that this Hub becomes is a place where people are willingly prepared to talk about these issues rather than them being dealt with in the shadows. I think that concern that we have when someone is having ill health and not knowing where to send them can be undone by this particular project. Its being in the centre of town, the selection was very important so people know that it’s there as a place where we can direct our young people, our students, our parents where they can get guidance and advice; where they can seek specific advice for their purpose or advice for their young person or friend or even their parent on how to deal with drug and alcohol issues or mental health, whatever it might be they need help with, I think it’s vitally important that that is now available.

The next thing I think is vitally important for our community has been the fact that for the people that have stayed in contact with this project is the realisation that a non-government organisation, a primary health group coming together, school education coming together, the local council as well as state and federal coming together with one objective. That’s a rare thing to get all those same people in the same room to contribute their time and their energy towards one end. I applaud all of those people for their contribution.

I think that, in the long run, we’ll be able to normalise the conversation around ill health for our young people. So, I thank you."

Lily; thank you Mr. Bowsher…or can I call you ‘Ian’?...

Mr. Bowsher; 'Was that part scripted? - so quick!

Mayor Regan said 
“This has been driven by the community and for the community for all the right reasons. We don’t have all the answers and we need to find out what the answers are.”

To have a 'go-to' centre to meet a range of complex needs under one roof and within reach is definitely one step in the right direction.

As Rob Stokes, MP For Pittwater said on Friday;
"... so many people who have worked together across the community whether it’s the business community, community activism, surf clubs, sporting codes, some incredible community leaders who are coming together in a common cause because you all have ambition greater than your selves. And you all have a deep and abiding love for the people in your community, who we all have a joint responsibility for. 

Yes, it’s the school, yes it’s what happens at home and family, but yes it’s also the community and what we can do together. It is that wholistic nurturing and coming together in collaboration that we’re celebrating today, and that is magnificent and encouraging to see ...."

On Avalon Beach, if someone is having trouble with the riptides, are exhausted or feeling like they are about to sink, they raise their hand and someone comes to their rescue, stops them from drowning - lifts them up, and out, and away.

The Avalon Youth Hub, similarly exists, as we all do, as individuals and a community, to lift each other up.

It's always ok to lift your hand, 
That's why we're all here, all of us -  to lift each other up.

P.S. And yes, that was me bellowing this exact same thing at you years ago when I caught you all being very very naughty just after school was out, just near the creek; 
But I still maintain - we're not here to fight each other or tear each other down - we're all here to lift each other UP.
A. xoxo

If you or anyone you know needs help:
PANDA on 1300 726 306
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
Headspace on 1800 650 890
Awesome music from The Rions!
Report and Pictures by A J Guesdon.