Youth Action Committee gives voice to young people in Karoonda East Murray district

Karoonda East Murray's Youth Action Committee held its first meeting via Zoom. Photo: Supplied.
Karoonda East Murray's Youth Action Committee held its first meeting via Zoom. Photo: Supplied.

Karoonda East Murray's Youth Action Committee might only be a couple of months old, but members have already sunk their teeth into the first project: a revamp of the Karoonda playground.

Council chief executive officer Matthew Morgan said the council was aware it needed to engage with the district's young people, particularly as it works its way to meet goals set in the Community Vision 2040 plan, hence why the YAC was formed.

"The Community Vision 2040 is a long term vision which was developed over 12 months after much consultation with the community. If we are to realise the vision for the future, tomorrow's leaders need to be engaged in the process today.

"We see the YAC as an important vehicle for ensuring that young people are involved in community decision making, and the provision of events, activities and services for youth within the district."

In April, the District Council of Karoonda East Murray opened applications for its Youth Action Committee (YAC), with people aged 12 to 21 encouraged to get involved.

The YAC was selected from the applications by the council in May, and they had their first meeting via Zoom on May 5.

They self-elected positions on the committee, and 17-year-old Sean Stone, from Sandalwood, is the president.

"I thought it was pretty important for the younger community to have their say and share their ideas," he said.

"I want to develop myself a bit more, develop leadership qualities and get a youth voice to the council."

Creating the YAC built on the council's partnership with Karoonda Area School, where last year staff and students worked together to decide how to spend $300,000 of the $1 million federal government Drought Communities Program Extension grant.

Much of this money will be put towards the YAC's first project, which is creating the design and concepts for new playgrounds to be installed along the Karoonda Highway at Wynarka, Wanbi, and Karoonda to make the Mallee Playground Trail.

"We've organised the design of the Karoonda playground and consulted with school kids," Mr Stone said.

After hearing feedback from Karoonda Area School students through consultation workshops, the YAC has adjusted its plans for the playground, which they see having a climbing tower, swing set, pyramid net, and flying fox.

Members have also identified the need for a safe walking trail to link the southern township of Karoonda with the main street and activity spaces, particularly for students and elderly residents.

Mr Morgan said the YAC was still in its formative stages, and COVID-19 had hampered some of its development, but members and council staff would work together to create meeting schedules and develop tools to communicate with the community's youth.

"Council will be looking to provide assistance to the YAC to set up these mechanisms and start administering their own meeting frequency and agenda items as it evolves," he said.

While the YAC is currently made of five members, Mr Morgan anticipated two more members may be called for next year.

Future projects the YAC will be involved in include the youth activity space at the Karoonda Institute, a community music event later in the year, and a Youth Services Action Plan to improve services for young people into the future.

"(Council is) also keen to provide opportunities for youth leadership development, creating a calendar of youth activities and events and potentially even sowing the seeds of community leadership for some of our younger members of the community ahead of the next council elections in two years' time."