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12 March 2020
At HISKA, it sometimes feels like we are pushing boulders up a mountain. It’s hard work and at times exasperating. Then we experience something positive; the motivation and determination returns and we fight to breathe life into our community projects once again.

Last night, Tracie and I presented to a sitting of Bass Coast Shire Council, Community Connections Session. Present were BCSC Mayor and councillors, plus the CEO, members of the council executive, presenting groups, local media and members of the public.

We had 15 minutes (10 to present + 5 for Q & A).

Our objectives were as follows:

- Introduce HISKA (Helping In Supporting Kids Australia) to BCSC.
- Explain the HISKA Youth Sheds project and appeal to embed the model into the BCSC Living Young Plan.
- Gain support and ask for funding for a project to build a new shed or structure on the site at 76 Watt St Wonthaggi (occupied by YES Youth Hub and Wonthaggi Boxing Club) to expand the range of youth engagement projects offered by YES Youth Hub, HISKA Youth Sheds and other youth service providers operating at the Hub.

After sharing an anecdote to demonstrate the community need and benefits of a HISKA Youth Shed, I explained how and why HISKA was founded, plus the framework for the Youth Sheds program including the primary project categories:

According to our framework, HISKA Youth Shed Projects will be loosely divided into five categories:
1 Restorations (Classic cars, go-karts and furniture)
2 Technology (Computers, robotics, drones, circuits)
3 Arts
4 Bio (Planter boxes, seed collection, tree and veggie propagation/growing, community garden, bonsai, geraniums)
5 Job Skills (Collaboration with RTOs running certified courses to help young people complete course projects and practical assessments)

We linked the benefits of HISKA Youth Sheds to the BCSC Youth Action Plan, which is soon to be replaced by the “Living Young Plan” currently under development. The plan states, “There is a lack of ‘youth spaces’ in the Bass Coast community. Young people not interested in sport said it’s difficult to access other options. We need places to connect with each other and get help. Youths need more access to purposeful activities, skills development and leadership opportunities”.
HISKA Youth Sheds meets most, if not all of these needs by providing safe places for youth projects, engagement, connection, self-development, leadership opportunities and mentor support. Youth Sheds provide opportunities for youth to drive projects and celebrate achievements.

Recruitment and training of mentors is the first step to achieving a HISKA Youth Shed on Bass Coast and we have applied to BCSC for a community grant to help finance this.

Concerning a site to operate HISKA Youth Sheds, the primary plan is for the main stakeholders (HISKA, YES Youth Hub and YMCA) to secure the support of BCSC to consider making funds available to build a new shed or structure on the site at 76 Watt St Wonthaggi; being the old CFA station currently leased by YES Youth Hub & Wonthaggi Boxing Club.

The first step was our presentation last night and for Council to indicate whether the building of a new structure is possible. If Council shares the belief that a new structure would add further possibilities to youth services and engagement, enhance the YES Youth Hub site and add value to this council owned property, then work could begin to organise quotes or enter a tender process. We asked that Council consider allocating the cost of this building project to the relevant budget in the next period and assist with planning and building permits.

The response to the presentation was overwhelming. We were the final group of the day and when I finished speaking, the Mayor made a beeline to shake my hand and two other councillors did likewise. The Mayor said, “Matt, I don’t even know how you’re doing this after everything your family has been through, I couldn’t do what you’re doing”. One of the councillors told me his family has experienced the tragic impact of suicide and my story brought tears to his eyes. They all expressed their full support for our HISKA Youth Sheds project.

While there are no promises that the Council will allocate funds to the budget for the building of a new structure at the YES Youth Hub, we have achieved the first objective - make them aware, get them interested and gain their support for what we’re trying to achieve. I feel we ticked that box successfully.

I have been asked to put together a formal and fully costed proposal to present to Bass Coast Shire Council in the next few weeks, before the budget is signed off. There will be a few sleepless nights ahead. If we can pull this off, despite being a miracle, it will mean we achieve a new and secure structure at the YES Youth Hub to open the first HISKA Youth Shed, and begin running projects for the kids.

This will change young lives - and that’s what it’s all about.

I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

South Gippsland Sentinel Times
Read about the launch of HISKA
South Gippsland Sentinel Times,  (page 11)
Listen to our story and why we started HISKA 
Click HERE for 3MFM Radio Interview with Kim & Matt
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