Click here for Rachel Afflick's video with the youth at Central Square
TEENAGERS hang out in groups at Central Square’s Armstrong Street South entrance, where police say spitting, swearing and daily fights are part of unsociable behaviour, because they are bored and have nowhere else to go.
That was the explanation of a group of teenagers approached by
Many of them said they spent up to six hours every day at Central Square.
They gather in an area where it is alleged two young people, who appeared in court yesterday, stole a mobile phone at knifepoint from a man on Wednesday.
Christopher Armistead, 18, said the area was a great place to socialise but it was also the site of daily fights that were usually fuelled by rumours.
“It’s far enough to get away from school so they don’t go looking for you but central enough to hang with your mates,” he said.
“Because it’s so central and all the buses are here, this is the place where all the punch-ons happen.
“We hang in groups because it’s safer, even if it does appear intimidating.
“There’s nothing here. That’s why so many fights happen. There’s nothing to do.”
Mr Armistead said most kids who came to hang out were being unfairly branded as troublemakers, when it was really only a small number of people who were ruining it for the rest of them.
“They say you’ve done this, you’ve done that. What’s the point of getting in trouble if you can’t hang out here?” Mr Armistead said.
Dalton Taylor, 18, said he had been the subject of rumours and violence.
“Yet I still come here, which is the crazy bit. Overall, it’s an easy place to hang out.”
The teenagers yesterday said they would prefer to socialise in a safer location, but there was no alternative, such as a centrally-located skate park.
Ballarat Community Safety Committee chairman Des Hudson said there was a perception of people feeling unsafe because of the size of the groups congregating in the area.
“They’re just being young people in a public place. They might dress differently to standards gone by or they might use language differently to standards gone by.”