02 April, 2013

National Youth Week 2013

National Youth Week is an annual weeklong celebration of young people aged 12 -25, which encourages youth to share ideas, discuss youth issues, showcase their talents and have a bit of fun. Go to www.youthweek.com for more information..

In our Nation, we ought to celebrate those who represent our future, yet not all about youth is hopeful. In fact there are frightening statistics which point to dislocation and brokenness – 26,000 who have no bed for the night, an average of 6 young people who take their lives every day (1800 – 2000 every year), a rising number of vulnerable children held in un-sentenced detention and so on.

In June 2012, Chris Johnson from the Age newspaper wrote a series of articles on youth suicide, noting a ‘cluster’ of suicides, and bringing attention to a massive need for awareness and collaborative effort in understanding the tragedy of young people taking their lives. Subsequently, a series of ‘Hope Talks’ involved Chris and others in exploring indicators of suicide in youth……

Major Brendan Nottle hosted one of these talks at TSA Melbourne Project 614 in Bourke St Melbourne and later, along with street team leader, Lauren Cockerell, was interviewed by Just Salvos.

Watch part 1 here

In these interviews, Just Salvos explores suicide and the multiple needs of youth. Brendan and those who work in the transit street teams (Lauren heads up these) are certain that there is never one issue which affects the youth they meet – drug affected youth are disconnected from families, mental health deterioration leads to crime and so on. Rescue & relief efforts can go further when accompanied by counselling, working out solutions with help, working with other agencies.

Watch part 2 here

Listen to Brendan’s story of one young person, on the point of suicide because ‘no one cared’, but who now loves life, in stable housing and involved in ‘Young Nation’s Souljahs’. What was the breakthrough point?

What inspires the continuing involvement for workers in situations of desperate need among our youth? Where does the strength come from? For Brendan, it is being fed by the Spirit of God and the early day examples of the Salvation Army, who set up a Suicide prevention Bureau in the 1890’s and set a standard for saving lives. I like Brendan’s quote from Karl Barth: “We should all read the newspaper every day; have that in our left hand and the Bible in our right hand… God will speak to us about how we should respond”.

Be stirred, as some are, to be a voice for others, and become a person who can respond. We are all to be partners in dispensing hope, we have get up off our knees and get out of the church, to be confronted by the sheer hell and be inspired to action.

Marion Weymouth
Social Justice Secretary

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