The COGB Youth Forum held on Thursday in The Bendigo Bank Theatre at the Capital was attended by six BSSC students and representatives from most of the 7-10 colleges.

The forum’s aim was to discuss the newly-drafted proposal that will guide the Bendigo Council’s policies, and projects aimed at people aged 12 to 24, over the next four years.

“Council takes all opinions seriously,” Deputy Mayor, Councillor Rod Fyfe, said. “We may not agree or be able to act on everything, but we want your ideas.”

Project Reference Group Member, Ryan Peterson, said the forum had great relevance to students.

“Some of us will be living here for the rest of our lives, so it makes sense to participate in shaping that future,” he said.

Georgia, Emily and Hattie who heard about the forum through student council all agreed that Bendigo is a great community for young people to be part of.

“Bendigo allows people to have a sense of place,” Georgia said.”

Hattie believes the community is big enough to have plenty of opportunities, but small enough that you know a lot of the people you walk past in the street.

“It gives me a feeling of belonging that I never had in Melbourne,” she said.

Emily explained the impact when her family moved to Bendigo from Melbourne.

“I had been so unhappy, but after I started at BSSC the options gave me so many better choices for the future, and I feel really at home in Bendigo.”

And the negatives?

“There are broader cultural and societal issues, including the impact of the lack of jobs on young people,” Hattie explained. “Young people feel their work is not appreciated. The value of young workers is low because employers know that so many people need a job and they can replace staff easily.”

The priority issues for young people that have already been identified in the process include:

  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Mental health
  • Employment
  • Education and training
  • Events
  • Having a say
  • Personal safety
  • Transport