A CALL by a youth activist to turn the Ballarat Civic Hall into a drop-in centre for the city’s young people has been met with both applause and jeers.
Late last week, youth activist Tim Coleman held a musical “submission” in the CBD to highlight his idea for the Civic Hall to be converted into a drop-in centre, complete with music and plenty of space for young people to hang out in a drug and alcohol-free environment.
He was joining others in the community who have already outlined their ideas for the future of the Civic Hall.
“I think these kids have all got so much to offer and it’s better to work with them than against them,” Mr Coleman said.
His submission was made outside the Central Square Shopping Centre, a hang-out for some of the city’s “bored and troubled” youth. Their presence outside the Armstrong Street South entrance of the shopping centre has, in recent years, drawn the ire of city workers and passers-by, who have complained about bad behaviour from the group.
“A lot of these kids cause trouble because they’re bored, but when they’re not bored look at them, they’ve got a lot of potential,” Mr Coleman said. “If they had somewhere to hang out they would realise their potential.”
Mr Coleman’s proposal has been praised by Ballarat teenagers, who said the plan would make a big difference. One teen said: “We all hang out (at Central Square) and we get in trouble for it, but there’s nowhere else in Ballarat to go.”
One reader described Mr Coleman’s proposal as a great idea, but added they believed narrow-mindedness would not see the plan considered. “... here’s a chance to bridge the gap and all ratepayers should get on board and give the youth a chance,” The Courier reader said.
However, there are also many in the community who believe instead of a drop-in centre, the city’s youth should either return to school or get a job.
One reader said: “... if you want to hang out somewhere – go to school or get a job. It’s not up to the normal people in society to create dwellings for rejects to ‘hang out’ so they stop drinking and fighting on the street.”
Mr Coleman’s idea for a youth drop-in centre may not be taken up by the City of Ballarat, but at least he was having a go at finding a solution for two problems in the CBD – a use for the derelict Civic Hall and clearing the streets of trouble-making youths. Both of these issues have received much debate in recent months.
Don’t mock Mr Coleman for showing some initiative. Instead of hiding behind anonymous, and often negative, comments on the web, why not get off your hands and come up with your own solutions for these two issues.
Ideas for the future of the Civic Hall are encouraged from members of the community until this Friday. Submissions can be made by Twitter using #civichall2012, Facebook and email.