The 'Youthie' turns 30
Published on 06 April 2023
Kiama Council’s youth services opened in Hindmarsh Park Heritage Cottages back in 1993 to meet the needs of young people aged 12-25 in the Kiama Municipality.
We spoke to our current Youth Services Coordinator Steven McAllan about all things SENTRAL, and some of the highs and lows experienced over three decades of youth work.
How long have you worked at Kiama Council?
I have been here for nearly 6 months. Previously I was working and living in the Northern Territory in a remote community called Borroloola for three years.
What drew you to youth services?
I have a passion for helping young people and supporting them in a positive away. The role at Kiama was a great opportunity to be part of a great youth service in a beautiful area.
What’s a typical work day?
Organising future activities for young people, engaging with stakeholders, and replying to emails. Our Drop-In days (currently Thursday and Friday afternoons at SENTRAL in Hindmarsh Park) are my favourite to work because I can chat with young people and play pool.
What’s most enjoyable about your job?
Connecting with young people for sure.
What are some of the challenges?
Challenges for me are learning opportunities. Would love to learn how to switch off when I leave work!
Tell us about SENTRAL’s 30th Anniversary?
Our SENTRAL team has spent three decades providing local youngsters with a safe place to meet up, make friends, play pool, basketball and ‘chill out’.
At the same time, a fantastic range of youth workers has also been helping these young people gain life skills to help them reach their potential.
For our anniversary celebrations, we are running an afternoon tea at SENTRAL. We’re hoping to see lots of once-were-youths who attended the service and we’re also inviting back any ex-staff who helped shape the young people in Kiama back in those days.
What do the letters SENTRAL stand for?
Seek. Education. Networking. Training. Resilience. Advocacy. Life Skills.
Give us a history lesson?
We’ve hosted some fantastic and award-winning programs and events over the years, such as the ‘Blowout’ Concerts from 1997-99 which attracted of more than 10,000 attendees.
We’ve also provided regular Youth Week activities, live music, camps, intergenerational food events, the Create to Connect arts program, a Rainbow Run for all ages at Werri Beach, Kiama Youth Markets, and workshops on various topics from podcasting to music production to coffee making.
A stand-out achievement has been the establishment and evolution of the annual Youth Engagement Meeting, where Kiama’s Councillors come together with local primary and secondary students to discuss key issues facing young people.
Another was the leadership shown by SENTRAL Youth Services during COVID-19 and the significant impact it had on our young people.
What else are you excited about?
We just got funding approval for an overnight youth camp to Kangaroo Valley from 17-18 April – any locals who would like more info, please get in touch with me via SentralTeam@Kiama.nsw.gov.au or call (02) 4233 1276