Article Courtesy of Merimbula News Weekly :

A meeting, organised by Merimbula Rotary and attended by Bega and Pambula Rotary Clubs, the Mayor, Social Justice Advocates and representatives of family and youth support organisations, heard details about a youth refuge project which could be trialled in the Bega Valley.

David Marshall chair of Rotary District 9705 (includes Bega Valley) governance board for the District Vulnerable Youth Project said the project, Rubys, had been operating successfully in South Australia for 28 years. Work has started on a new home in the ACT which Mr Marshall said would be full on the day of opening.

In discussion with Merimbula Rotary president Andy Thorp, Mr Marshall had expressed interest in seeing a similar facility for 12-17 year-olds in regional NSW.

"I am of the view that such a facility is something that would be of great benefit to vulnerable youth in the Bega Valley Shire," Mr Thorp said and has suggested Merimbula, Bega and Pambula Rotary Clubs look at taking on the long term project.

The homes provide a refuge for vulnerable youth for several days a week while service providers work with the youth and their parents to get them back home. The average length of stay is six months and parents must be part of the program.

"Having social worker and psychologist programs around this is pivotal. Kids are referred by parents, police or schools; it's a circuit breaker," Mr Marshall said.

Service providers such as Vinnies or the Salvation Army might run the facility but it is owned by the government. The presentation prompted questions about the program and the needs locally, where the nearest youth refuge is Moruya.

There were concerns about putting vulnerable youth back in their own homes, even for a few days a week with Sue MacKinnon from the Bega Teen Clinic pointing out that for most kids, family was the issue.

Sarah Bancroft of PCYC said services at the coal face were in crisis because they had no options.

While there were concerns about the scope of the project, it was pointed out that one project could not save everyone.

Social Justice Advocate Mick Brosnan said that while people could talk about the nuances of such a service, "I want to make it clear that we need a youth refuge".

"I urge you to think about this, we need a refuge but let's work out the style for our shire," Mr Brosnan said.

We were very fortunate to welcome Rosemary Everett, District 9705 Treasurer, as our Guest Speaker at our Club's Meeting held on 10 February 2021 and we thank her for taking time out of her holiday in Merimbula to attend.  Rosemary gave a very thought-provoking presentation on the Rotary District 9705 Vulnerable Youth Project.  The aim of this project is to provide accommodation for adolescents between the ages of 12 – 17 year olds struggling in our society, due to a number of factors, who find themselves without a roof over their head.  Please click on the attached document to read more about this remarkable initiative.  
If you would like to make a financial contribution to this very worthy cause please complete the attached Contribution Form and forward to Rosemary at