Fusion Australia Campsie Cafe
Mr MOSS (Canterbury—Parliamentary Secretary) [5.09 p.m.]: On Thursday 4 April I had the pleasure of representing the Minister for Community Services and the Minister Assisting the Premier on Youth at the official opening of the Fusion cafe in Campsie. Fusion Australia is an organisation that provides facilities for young people. It has approximately 50 youth drop-in centres in every State across the nation and provides youth advisory services in about 150 country towns around Australia. At the opening I was happy to meet Fusion's national director, Mr Mal Garvin, who also founded the organisation. Fusion was formed to provide safe recreational facilities for young people, mainly after school. The organisation caters to children aged between 11 and 18 years but most young people who visit the centres are aged 15 and 16—all-important years.
An army of volunteers is involved with Fusion but I stress that they do not run the centres: the young people do. Volunteers provide support and advice when required. At the centres young people socialise—that is the main aim of the centres—and participate in programs that they have designed. There are activities such as band and singing practice; art and other creative activities; and discussion groups on a diverse range of topics, including drugs, careers, relationships, depression, sexuality and spirituality. The Campsie Fusion cafe lives up to its name: it has coffee-making facilities and computers, which young people these days seem unable to live without. It is a great venue.
I take this opportunity to congratulate the Government on its involvement in these sorts of cafes. In June 1999 the Premier announced that we would spend $3.4 million over four years to set up after-school drop-in centres in Bankstown, Campsie, Hurstville, Mt Druitt and Penrith. Fusion cafes are already up and running in Penrith and Mt Druitt, and I am delighted that my electorate has also received funding. I congratulate the Minister for Community Services and the Government on concentrating on youth matters. In the past 30-odd years governments have focused mainly on preschool child care rather than after-school care for schoolchildren. Fusion centres cannot be described as after-school care centres but they empower young people to do things for themselves to build greater self-esteem and to live more fulfilling lives.
The centre in Campsie took some time to establish because Fusion likes to do its homework. It approached eight local high schools and asked teachers to encourage students to get involved with the centre—particularly students who are at risk and whose parents are not home after school. It also took time to organise culturally appropriate staff. In a multicultural area like Campsie it is essential that staff in centres such as the Fusion cafe are multilingual. That organising work is now behind us and the cafe has opened. I have no doubt that the cafe and the services it offers will solve many problems. Many friendships will be formed, children's lives will be changed and their careers will blossom in the long term.
Mrs LO PO' (Penrith—Minister for Community Services, Minister for Ageing, Minister for Disability Services, and Minister for Women) [5.14 p.m.]: We will be able to gauge the success of Fusion and other after-school cafes only years later when a young person will perhaps remark, "If I hadn't hung out there I wouldn't be the person I am today." That sort of thing happens all the time in teaching: the results are not immediate but years later someone will say that they benefited from something they did at school. The Fusion cafe in Penrith is working out well. It had some glitches initially but expert staff dealt with them.
It is an interesting statement about our society that cafes such as this are necessary. I would suggest that only one person presently in the Chamber is young enough to have experience of community cafes. They certainly did not exist when I was younger. It shows how society has moved on. In my day young people went to the Young Women's Christian Association or joined the cubs, scouts or girl guides. However, this model is much appreciated by young people. We fervently wish to keep them out of the sort of trouble they can get into when they are on the streets with nowhere go.