Whyalla Police have collaborated with several local support agencies to open a new space for young people in the Westland Shopping Centre.
Youth Central will be open for a trial period and will be staffed by both volunteers and police who will engage with local youths in an effort to address antisocial behavior in the shopping centre.
The members of the Youth Central Committee are:
- SAPOL - Mark Hubbard
- Mission Australia - Rebecca Gow
- Council - Gail Rostig
- Headspace - Courtney Beer
- Plaza Youth - Joanne Jones
- Gabmididi Manoo - Dana Campion
- Foodbank - Sandy Woodford
- Savills - Anthony Cutts
Westlands Shopping Centre, the Whyalla City Council, Centacare, Department of Child Protection, the Local Drug Action Team and Youth Justice also supported the project.
Police and other agencies will staff the centre between the hours of 2pm and 7pm on Thursday and Friday.
The hub features a number of items donated by the agencies including LittleBigWorld games, beanbags, and food and drinks.
Should the project be deemed a success the facility could be re-opened for the summer holiday period.
Operations Inspector Mark Hubbard said he hoped the hub would help break the cycle of disadvantage that exists for some of Whyalla's young people.
"If kids who come here are hungry we can address those needs, but more importantly look at the underlying causes," he said.
"Are they being cared for by their parents? Have they got a place to live? Are they going to school? A lot of those underlying issues can affect them.
"The intent of the project was to provide something other than having confrontations with young people in the shopping centre and troubleshoot the issues that are causing the antisocial behavior."
Mr Hubbard said collaboration and teamwork between police and community organisations happened everyday 'behind the scenes'.
"We work daily with council, the Department of Child Protection and others on similar projects. However you can't physically see and touch many of them," he said.
"This is one you can."
Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin said the hub was a result of the community working together to address the needs of some local youths.
"The wellbeing of the youth in this community is very important and that was one of the reasons why we felt this project was so important," she said.
"I think it's a really positive community outlet."