Youth-dedicated space opens in Gungahlin

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Northside Community Services’ youth engagement coordinator, Katie Peek… “It’s very exciting to have a space that [young people] can come and hang out in, and connect with support services or the local community within the area.” Photo: Nathan Schmidt.
GUNGAHLIN may be home to the ACT’s second youngest median population, but up until Wednesday (April 7) the rapidly-growing suburb lacked a dedicated space for youth.

It’s something that organisers of the newly launched, “Gunner’s Place”, a joint venture between Northside Community Services, Bernado’s youth outreach and the Multicultural Hub Canberra, hope to change.

At its launch Northside Community Services youth engagement coordinator Kate Peek said Gunner’s Place is an inclusive and accessible space for the local community. 

Located on the second floor of Gungahlin Marketplace, the space came about after Katie and other organisers reached out to local schools to form “pop-up” spaces for youth.

Through feedback from young people, Katie realised that the youth spaces in schools weren’t entirely inclusive so she started exploring for a new, neutral base. 

They settled on their current location after searching for somewhere centrally-located and fitted it with amenities such as a hockey table and a “chill-out” space.

“It’s very exciting to have a space that [young people] can come and hang out in, and connect with support services or the local community within the area,” Katie said.

“We didn’t want to sit on our hands any more. We wanted to make something happen. So we’ve dipped into [Northside’s] pockets to pay for this place.

“I feel the utmost pride that three local community organisations that are very diverse in their outreach can come together to make an inclusive, diverse and comfortable space for everyone within the community to access. It is a great point of pride.”

The current location is only temporary, though.

Katie said future plans for an expanded marketplace outlet would require the demolition of their current location. But regardless, organisers already have their eyes set on a bigger, better space in the future.

“We started this place knowing that it’s not forever and the future plan is that we would have a dedicated multicultural community and youth asset within the Gungahlin town centre that is easily accessible by public transport,” said Katie.

Whatever that space may be, Katie is assured it is young people that will be at the forefront of design and decision-making.

“We like to be a space for young people, by young people or for community by community,” she said.

“We are just the puppeteers. We want to hear what everyone wants and involve them in the part of the process.”

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