Lack of jobs key to youth issues

YOUTH unemployment and broken households are causing a rising level of drug abuse, homelessness and mental health issues among Sunshine Coast youth.

That was the message from Fusion Sunshine Coast team leader Jesse O'Neil who says teenagers are doing it tougher than ever.

For the past 10 years the youth organisation has been running a range of programs to engage with youngsters.

Mr O'Neil said he was noticing more youth facing problems at home, which was causing a spill on effect in behaviour at school.

He said the main issues emerging were neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and broken-up households.

"Our experience is kids are doing it tougher than ever," he said.

"The challenge is we look at the symptoms rather than the cause.

"The symptoms are the drug abuse, the unemployment, the homelessness and the couch surfing.

"The cause is... young people need a place where they belong. They're finding it harder to find a place to belong at home."

Mr O'Neil said the Sunshine Coast youth unemployment rate, which sat above the national average, didn't help the situation.

He said Australia-wide youth unemployment was 14.2%, but in local areas figures were a lot more dire.

In Sippy Downs the rate stood at 20% and Mountain Creek at 18%.

In a bid to turn the state of youth disengagement around, Fusion and the Buderim Lions Club are working together to introduce more youth programs.

This year Fusion hopes to connect with more teens by expanding its street work bus locations and equipping them with more youth service workers.

Already Fusion connects with about 150 kids every week across its range of programs. The organisation also runs school lunchtime programs and hopes to get more youth connecting with volunteer leaders.

The Buderim Lions Club is actively helping to raise money for Fusion's vital programs with fundraising events this year.

Lions will host Theatre Restaurants on April 17-18 at the Buderim Hall to kickstart this year's funds.

For tickets visit the Old Post Office, Burnett St.



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