Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (31 March) . . Page.. 1432..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
The need for a safe overnight shelter for young people aged 12 to 17 has been clearly demonstrated. We know that young people stay out late in Civic; we know they often do not have the means to get home; we also know that young people see Civic as a focal point for their activities.
Some of the young people who have no means of getting home or, in some cases, feel that their home is such a threatening environment they do not want to go home accept unsafe offers of accommodation. They even agree to sex simply to get out of the cold for a night. They put themselves at great risk of ongoing abuse, pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Some young people end up engaging in criminal activity so that they can get arrested and detained in Quamby because Quamby gives them a roof and a feed. These are outcomes we should be trying to avoid; we should be working for the best interests of these young people.
The motion that I move today is a simple motion and it calls on the government to make, as part of the 2004-05 financial year, the establishment of a youth night shelter a high priority. There are many different ways that the government can do that-whether or not that is actually committing the funds through an investigative study and committing the fund for the outcomes of those studies or, believing that they have done enough studies, actually putting the funding in to get such a facility up and running.
A night shelter open between 7 pm and 11 am that provided a bed, a shower and access to people who cared could make an amazing difference for the young people who are sleeping rough every night in our town. Advice from the community sector has made me believe that a facility of about 10 to 12 beds would be adequate to meet our needs for the foreseeable future.
I understand that the government has been sent an actual costed proposal by a new advocacy group for young people entitled youth information referral resource service. They have a proposal and they, on their costings, are talking about $400,000 for this project to be up and running and operating over a period of 12 months.
What we are talking about here is not medium-term accommodation for young people; it is not about setting up another refuge; and it is not about long-term support. The proposal is for a shelter for one-off or occasional use by young people who are in immediate crisis. Young people have crises 24 hours a day. At the moment we have youth centres that support young people, but they do not operate 24 hours a day. There is no safe place for young people to visit after hours. This is what this proposal seeks to address.
How the actual youth night shelter will operate is, again, in the scope of the government in discussion with the community sector. Some workers have suggested that young people only be allowed to stay there three consecutive nights because three consecutive nights is enough indication that there is a long-term accommodation problem for this young person. But of course the best model would be decided in consultation with the young people themselves and the community services that are already helping to support them.
One of the main roles that this youth night shelter would have would be, actually after young people come in, referring them in the morning to the services that can provide