Support Services for Young People in Cessnock

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As a young person, I am immensely proud to be living in Cessnock. However, as I look around me I realise that there is so much to be done, so much that can be done to ensure that other young people have the opportunities that they are entitled to. Opportunities that enable them to make the most of their lives. In Cessnock, statistics surrounding drug and alcohol abuse and addiction within young people are some of the worst in NSW. Yet there is no place close enough to Cessnock for these struggling young people to turn to for support, whether they want it or not. The closest drug and alcohol support services that are specifically for Young People are in Maitland. Such services in Maitland include a program that is run by Headspace which provides support for young people who would like to quit or cut down on their alcohol or drug use. The problems facing the young people in our community are right here in Cessnock, not 30 minutes’ drive away and so it only makes sense that the appropriate support services and programs are accessible right here in Cessnock as well.

 After speaking to the Salvation Army in Cessnock I was informed that there are children as young as 12 in our community who are so addicted to substance abuse and desperate to become intoxicated or "get high" that they resort to inhaling petrol fumes. These 12-year-old kids right at the beginning of their lives need the right guidance, they need somewhere to turn to that isn't in another town. Not everyone is willing to seek support, but if there is somewhere close to home that they know they can go to for support, then they will be more likely to at least consider it. Something is better than nothing. Currently, there is a culture among young people in Cessnock which unfortunately leads them towards drugs and alcohol. It’s time to start a culture of young people who seek support and make the right decisions that will benefit them not only in the short term, but in the long term. Children and teenagers are not adults so there should not only be support services designed for adults available for them to go to if they want support.

According to NSW Health statistics 79.9% of school students aged 12-17 have consumed alcohol at some stage. 20.9% of those students consume alcohol regularly.  Why is it that for a town with statistics that are considerably worse than the state as a whole, the appropriate support services are non-existent? Is it that these facilities have had an impact in other areas or is there a reason that organisations have not put these life salvaging programs in Cessnock? Facilities that would be of great benefit to the young people in our area could include;

·      a permanent headspace facility equipped with drug and alcohol support services that are similar to the ones that exist at the Maitland branch.

·      Availability of services at the Salvation Army Cessnock to incorporate a more youth centred approach to run beside the existing programs,

·       programs run through the facilities available at the PCYC.

All of these programs will ensure that the young people in Cessnock have access to the support services that they are entitled to. However, this cannot be achieved without the support and funding of government services.  

Statistically, young people who regularly participate in the consumption of drugs and/or alcohol are more likely to not complete year 12. Furthermore, statistics show that the higher level of education that a person has, the more job opportunities that are available to them. Therefore, with the implementation of these programs that aim to reduce drug and alcohol use within the Youth of our community, Cessnock will see lower unemployment rates and lower crime rates which will result in prosperity for the community as a whole.

If the problem is here in Cessnock, the solution should be here in Cessnock. Young people are the future of our town and these services will ensure that the future is a bright one.

Please support this petition by adding your details. Let’s give the young people in Cessnock the support that they’re entitled to!



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