Youth centre a safe haven for Casino teenagers

NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Milton Orkopoulos tries out the Junbung Youth Centres pool table at its opening last Friday. He is pictured with (l-r) Youth Centre committee member Mary Torrens, committee member and Elder Kathy Walker, Richmond Valley Councils community projects officer Joanne Petrovic, Clarence MP Steve Cansdell, committee chairperson Jon Bell, Sergeant Wayne Crotty, Junbung Aboriginal Elders Corporation chairperson Aunty Nora Caldwell, Youth Centre manager Darlene Caldwell, youth worker Troy Freeburn and local kids ( l-r) Josh Walker, Tyrone Torrens, Harold Torrens and Jeremy Bolt.

Casino teenagers will no longer have to wander the streets of their town looking for entertainment that doesnt exist, with the opening of the Junbung Youth Centre last Friday.

Funded by the Department of Community Services (DoCS) and opened by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Milton Orkopoulos, the space will be open every Friday night, providing a safe haven for around 70 teenagers aged between nine and 18.

As well as being able to chill out and play some pool or watch TV, the centre will also run sports and cultural activities plus a reconciliation program to engage and inspire young people.

There is nothing in this town, not even a cinema, and were trying to remedy that and get kids off the street and out of trouble, said Richmond Valley Councils community projects officer, Joanne Petrovic. This will literally stop kids going to jail some of the kids who come to the centre would be in trouble with the police if they werent here. The creation of the youth centre has also fostered some of the best relationships weve ever seen in this town between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people. Its brought together Aboriginal communities, the Elders, the Council, the Police and youth services. Its a positive step forward for Casino in so many ways.

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