Uplifting Latrobe’s youth community

Group: Uplift Youth Program's team. Photographs: Katrina Brandon



TRARALGON Centre Plaza was more lively than ever earlier last month (Thursday, October 5), with games, activities, free sausages and information.

Latrobe’s youth and families had a great time in an area where they could relax after school and connect with others in the community.

Latrobe City Councillor Sharon Gibson was in attendance, speaking highly of the event.

“It’s about helping people, helping kids, and helping their parents,” Cr Gibson said.

“It’s about breaking down the obstacles or barriers for the kids to get engaged.”

Youth Support and Advocacy Services (YSAS) Manager Mark Tanti, said the day had pro-social activities where youngsters could play and also connect with local services with information pamphlets and games.

Free activities included strike ball, beer pong (with beer googles), Connect Four, virtual reality, painting, pop up handball target, bean bag throw, ring toss and free fruit to keep the energy up.

Lots of children joined in with the activities, where even Cr Gibson jumped in and challenged them at Connect Four.

To start the event, leaders Sam Daley (Deputy Director at Berry Street), Cr Gibson, Business Development Manager at Community College Gippsland, Den Lim, and Mr Tanti challenged each other in a game. Cr Gibson and Ms Lim won against Mr Daley and Mr Tanti.

Ms Lim said that working with Mr Tanti, they hoped to get similar activity days around Gippsland at least four times a year – where the community can come together, have fun while having the ability to be open and get help in an area where they feel safe.

“We hear from young people all the time that they are too scared to walk through the doors of agencies sometimes. So coming to the people, running fun activities and then connecting with the agencies is something that we have found very beneficial,” Ms Lim said.

“This opportunity provides people and the agencies the opportunity to rub shoulders and connect, to refer, to understand what is out there as well so they can better understand communities.”

“When things are so expensive, it’s a cost-free thing for families and it connects them to other activities,” Mr Tanti said.

Some of the 20 agencies involved included Latrobe City Council, Berry Street, GippSport, Latrobe Health Assembly, Headspace, Reclink, Latrobe Youth Space, Vic Police and Gippsland Primary Health Network (GPHN).

Mr Tanti said that “sometimes services are here and they are well utilised but other times they are not.”

“People don’t realise that they are available until they need it,” he said.

According to Cr Gibson, the event was about teaching the young what they can do and the enjoyment that they get from it, as well as learn about available services.

“It starts changing their way of thinking because some kids are really shy, some kids doubt their abilities, but when you get them and it’s a safe place where they can have a go, it breaks down barriers,” she said.

“Things like sports and art teaches us discipline and teaches us to get in where you actually have to put the work in.”

Mr Tanti said that nowadays, people take having mentors for granted; those who don’t become stuck, or find that they have to navigate through on their own. Programs like this, according to Mr Tanti, will help youngsters who don’t have help and aren’t in school get some support with friendly faces and lots of fun.

“It’s a starting point,” he said.

Leaders: Berry Street Deputy Chair, Sam Daley, Latrobe City Councillor, Sharon Gibson, Community College Gippsland Business Development Manager, Den Lim and YSAS Manager Mark Tanti.
Heads in the game: Den Lim Cr Sharon Gibson winning at Giant Connect Four.