WIMMERA councils want to ensure their young residents are not overlooked.
Horsham Rural City, Yarriambiack and Hindmarsh councils have introduced initiatives to include the views of young people in an effort to make the region more youth friendly.
Yarriambiack and Hindmarsh councils have established youth councils who discuss issues that are important to their peer groups and take action to make necessary changes.
Meanwhile, Horsham council is in the process of developing a youth strategy to guide its future services. The council called for feedback from young people via a survey which will help guide its youth strategy.
The survey offered insight on what young people liked about the region, what they would change and their top five priorities.
Community services director Kevin O’Brien said the council received 325 completed surveys with 80 per cent of respondents being from Horsham while 20 per cent lived in surrounding areas including Haven, Natimuk, Quantong and Toolondo.
Mr O’Brien said the survey showed that young people identified drug and alcohol use and abuse, bullying, mental and physical health and lack of places to go to as some of the main issues facing young people in Horsham. About 65 per cent of respondents said tackling alcohol and drug use and abuse was a top priority.
Mr O’Brien said places to go, sports and the community were the aspects young people liked most about Horsham.
However, the survey also showed that people wanted more youth-friendly places to visit, more activities to do and improvements to areas such as the pool, sporting fields and the river.
He said a draft youth strategy was due to be released later this month.
Hindmarsh Shire Council’s youth and early year officer Meg Hall said its youth council was formed in 2015 and during the past four years, the key focus areas remained similar.
Miss Hall said education and employment were core concerns identified.
She said young people believed it was important to have access to quality education and have a chance to find enjoyable employment once their education was finished.
Miss Hall said young people have expressed their concern about health and safety and wanting access to necessary services.
“Alcohol, drugs and smoking are high up on their agenda for things that they want to be better educated about and they want more access to services involving those three issues,” she said.
Miss Hall said the younger generation wanted more activities to participate in – whether that be more recreational activities or community and social events.
She said the strategy also identified the desire for more opportunities and the feeling of connectedness.