A new youth hub is set to be built in the Hobart suburb of Bridgewater after a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Brighton Council, Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Service and Australian Red Cross.
The purpose build facility will act as a dedicated space for all 12-25 year-olds in the community, ensuring young people are supported away from the justice system by providing much needed wrap around community-based support.
Tasmanian Aboriginal Legal Service (TALS) chief executive, Jake Smith said a specific focus of the hub will be on young Aboriginal people considering well above average Indigenous population of the area.
"The Hub will be for all the youth in the Bridgewater community, but there will also be a focus on Aboriginal youth," Mr Smith said.
"In Bridgewater, the Aboriginal population represents more than 20 per cent of the community - compared to the Tasmanian population of five per cent."
Brighton Council will build the facility with TALS providing Aboriginal cultural support and representation for the community and youth diversion away from the justice system.
Mr Smith said with a high population of Aboriginal Tasmanians residing in the Brighton municipality, the youth hub presents an opportunity to create a culturally safe space for young Indigenous people in Hobart's outer north.
"This is a justice reinvestment initiative. Invest in youth before contact with the justice system and stop them from getting there in the first place. If money is invested here, to prevent and divert youth away from the justice system, our youth will be less likely to end up in detention or prison," Mr Smith said.
"Aboriginal youth continue to be over-represented in the youth justice system and this is the same in the adult justice system, initiatives like this to support youth before contact in the first place is key for the Aboriginal community."
Brighton Mayor Leigh Gray said the youth hub will be a significant and ground-breaking social infrastructure investment for the Brighton area, addressing current and future social needs of young people in the region.
"This will truly be a place-based solution rather than a 'cookie cutter' approach brought in by others. The youth hub will become the canvas where young people create what they need with the support and assistance of relevant services," Mr Gray said.
"Our vision is that the Hub is to be co-created, planned, services prioritised, and the spaces designed and managed by a steering committee with a representative from all of the main stakeholders including most importantly young members of our community."
Brighton Council will now consider major infrastructure grant opportunities to bring the hub to fruition before identifying a suitable location for the facility in the Bridgewater area.