Joel Imber catches up with folks from the top of Tassie! In this episode Joel chats to West Tamar’s Youth Development Officer Andy Beeston and two of their Youth Advisory Council (YAC) members, Cooper Mckercher and Jacinta Antoniazzi to talk about youth related issues. This podcast delves into Youth Program Operations in the West Tamar region to explore how young people keep connected in remote areas, harnessing opportunities around them!
Tell us a bit about the West Tamar Youth Program, how long have you been running YAC for and how many people work in your team?
We are a team of myself (Andy Beeston) as Youth Development Officer, Kim who is an all-rounder casual Youth Assistant and Shani who is a Beaconsfield based Youth Worker.
We have two youth centres! Our YAC member Cooper McKercher helps out at one in Legana, it’s not really a purpose built youth centre, it’s in a community hall but we transform it every Tuesday afternoon into a youth-friendly space for primary and high school aged young people with free activities and food, all that kind of stuff! The other one is located in Beaconsfield which has been running for about 20 years! On a Monday we have High School aged young people and on a Wednesday it runs for Primary School aged young people. When it’s open it gets pretty busy and hectic in there with lots of sport, music and creative activity.
The first year that YAC was formed was probably about 2004 and the group would be been about half a dozen young people who were regularly getting together. It’s really evolved and developed over the years and we have about 20 members at the moment, who are like council volunteers with the youngest being about 13 years old and the oldest being about 22 years old. Our members come from a wide variety of young people from backgrounds who work together to meet the needs of young people in the West Tamar region.
Cooper, what are some of the needs of young people in the West Tamar area and what’s your involvement like with YAC?
I’ve been involved with YAC for about three years, pushing on four years now. My usual role in YAC is to help out with any activities we’re doing. I help out a lot at the Legana youth centre where I’ve been going for about six or seven years.
I think young people need a way to connect to get support for anything they need and activities to do outside of school because not too many people have much to do outside of school.
Being a bit remote can make some things challenging but we always try look for a way around it whether you’d be in a primary school, high school or college like myself.
Jacinta, you mentioned that you’re doing uni, how do you find time to do things outside of studies?
I don’t really do anything outside of uni, haha! I’m doing a Law Degree which takes up a lot of my time but when I do get a chance to break away from study it’s usually for YAC things. We currently have a weekly meet up on Zoom and I’ll come and do that with them as well as send all the YAC members a message so that they don’t forget about the meeting.
Andy, how did the Corona Virus Pandemic effect the youth programs there when it all happened?
It was probably about mid-march in 2020, that we just all of the sudden had to put a halt on everything. It wasn’t until a few months later that we were able to start reengaging physically in programs with young people. It forced us to go online a lot more. Our YouTube channel was a big one, which helped keep the communication lines open and young people informed about what was going on. We also got into sending out care-packages, to our Youth Advisory Council and other young people in our programs. We posted some of the packages but we also took the time to deliver some door-to-door which was really worthwhile.
What would you like to see happen in future for youth programs in West Tamar?
Cooper: I’m hoping to hold the biggest field youth festival! Maybe a late year edition of it and get that going so I can get up on stage and be MC for the event!
Jacinta: When uni opens again I’ll have to move back down to Hobart to be on campus there but I’ll continue to liaise with everyone to let them know when our in-person meetings are and what events we’re running and stuff like that!
Andy: We’ll be upping our hygiene and cleaning standards after everything hah! But I’m keen to get back into the live music at our events, having a skate comp and getting all those things rocking again! Hopefully the weather will be nice for all the outdoor stuff we want to do too.
For more info about YAC West Tamar visit: www.wtc.tas.gov.au/Your-Community/Youth/Youth-Advisory-Council or follow them on social media on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YACWestTamar and Instagram at www.instagram.com/yacwesttamar