ABC article, 20 June 2021 – link here
Step into Palmerston’s new YMCA centre and you’ll see walls of bright colours and plenty of activities to keep kids busy after school.
But it serves a deeper purpose — it provides a safe space, responsible adults, a connection to support services, training opportunities and free dinner.
YMCA has similar centres across Australia.
But this one employs 75 per cent Indigenous staff and has a partnership with Darwin’s Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation, which also provide buses to take the kids home from the centre.
For YMCA youth mentor Frances Kelly, this is her first job and she loves supporting young people “to achieve their goals and dreams”.
“Since opening this space, I’ve noticed some really positive changes.
“I’ve seen some kids that are really shy and quiet come out of their shells and just grow and blossom with their confidence.”
Among them is 12-year-old Jordan Parfitt, who’s been proudly learning how to cook and is serving up spaghetti bolognese.
He comes to the YMCA almost every day because “it’s just a nice and safe space for me and many other kids in here”.
Michael and Harmony Lacey told the ABC they enjoyed coming to the centre because “there’s lots of activities and games” and they had made many friends.
While the centre is only in its first year, Frances hopes she’ll play a role in these kids’ lives for many years to come.
“I actually really look forward to the future for these young people,” she said.
“And I hope that our community and our government can continue to work towards empowering these kids, giving them a voice to be heard and to be seen, because they are the now generation.”