Graffiti covers almost every wall, broken glass crunches underfoot but despite the damage, Canberra PCYC (Police Community Youth Club) sees potential for their Turner site to provide support to young people.
What used to be the “heart of PCYC as far as Canberrans are concerned” has fallen into disrepair. According to Cheryl O’Donnell, Executive Manager Canberra PCYC, the building was vacated while waiting for an insurance claim to be finalised after storm damage caused the ceiling to collapse.
After about eight years of waiting, she said this has only really been fixed up and finalised in the last 12 months. Despite the delay, Canberra PCYC is keen to utilise their asset near the city centre with plans for a “therapeutic accommodation and support hub”.
“We would have other services working from here as well,” Mrs O’Donnell said. The aim is to create a “safe place for them [young people] to come to, because at the moment those kids are on the streets and our biggest concern is for those young ones 16 and under as basically there is nothing for them”.
She said there will be therapists on site, counsellors and psychologists, “so the kids aren’t having to go to different departments and telling their story over and over again”, which can lead to some stopping seeking help.
In terms of the building, Mrs O’Donnell said they are looking at a minimum of 10 bedrooms, while they also want to incorporate training rooms for education and set up a social enterprise café.
“We’ve got consultants working with us at the moment to do a financial scope and a scope for the entire area that will then go out to public consultation about the best use for the building, what it would cost to turn it into accommodation for the kids,” she said.
It is a project she would like to see completed “as soon as possible” to address the need in the community.
Currently Canberra PCYC has over 140 on their waitlist, “and they are only the ones we know about”.
Mrs O’Donnell highlighted the issue through a trial Canberra PCYC did where they went out to different suburbs each day and “were picking up 15 kids a day that either weren’t known to child protection or ACT Policing, disengaged with school or different issues with drug and alcohol, mental health issues that sort of thing”.
The Canberra PCYC Plunge is on 22-24 March where people will abseil down, and zipline from, Lovett Tower to raise funds for the organisation. To donate, visit mycause.com.au/events/canberrapcycplunge