Gungahlin’s first Youth Centre has officially opened to the public, providing an inclusive, welcoming, and safe space for young people at the Gungahlin Marketplace.
Northside Community Services partnered with Barnardo’s and Multicultural Hub Canberra to deliver Gunner’s Place to the Gungahlin region after they recognised the need for a dedicated Youth Space in the area.
Katie Peak, a youth worker with Northside Community Service, has worked on the Gunner’s Place project since its inception.
Ms Peak said the space will function as an area for young people to drop in and hang out, attend dedicated programs, groups and workshops, as well as be a safe and confidential space to meet with caseworkers and develop relationships with other young people.
“We knocked on Gungahlin Marketplace’s door and enquired about the vacant shop fronts,” she said.
“We spoke about doing pop-ups in them … but they did us one better and they offered us this space whilst it’s lying dormant.
“The best thing is the community made this happen … Northside, Barnardo’s and Multicultural Hub joined forces, dipped in our own funding pockets to make this a viable option for the Gungahlin community.”
Ms Peak said that youth from all demographics have been using the multipurpose space, but the “first locals”, Year 10 students Maya Belmont and Thomas Santleben, have been using Gunner’s Place as a weekly study-zone in the lead up to the grand opening.
Tom said that the local libraries do not have enough space for students to do homework and Gunner’s Place is “a nice spot to do what you need”.
“In my opinion there should be more on here. The Northside has a few holes here and there that need filling, places we don’t have, and I see this first new centre as a gateway to other places,” he said.
“Young people in general don’t seem to be joining community services or centres as much … having a Youth Centre here like this, it helps strengthen those bonds of community ties, it helps recreate that circle of interconnectedness.”
Maya said the centre will also help local youth to be more social.
“I realise a lot of kids now probably resort to talking to helplines through the phone or talk to their friends about it,” she said.
“I think spaces like this give them a chance to open up and see what they can do about it.”
According to Maya, her experience of using Gunner’s Place as a safe spot to relax, do homework and express her creativity means a lot to her, especially as she designed the logo and chalkboard artwork that decorates the space.
“It’s a very welcoming and diverse space for students to attend after school and to have a break from all the stress they would have received from schoolwork,” she said.
As the centre officially begins to welcome the public, Ms Peak said she hopes the central location will make it easier for young people to access and feel like they have a space to use until a more permanent, bigger location is established.
“We see [youth] all around, sitting in car parks, sitting in the hallways or the staircases of the mall,’ she said.
“We want them to know that they’re worth more than that and they actually have a space that they can come into.”
Visit Gunner’s Place at Suite 2, Level 1, 20 Hibberson St, Gungahlin.
Open Wednesdays from 2pm to 5pm.
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