Eyes on Thursday nights as youth fight culture grows
FUNDING from Orica Yarwun has breathed new life into Gladstone PCYC's Thursday Night Event program at a time when the increasingly violent weeknight is garnering serious attention from authorities.
As the fight culture surrounding Thursday nights continues to grow, so do concerns for the safety of the region's children.
In the hopes of combating the current trend that sees young children congregate at McDonald's and Stockland late on Thursday nights, PCYC's program is offering a safe and fun alternative place for young people to go and to socialise.
PCYC youth community development officer, Bec Frost told The Observer they had recently received 12 months of funding from Orica Yarwun to help cover the event costs.
"This time last year we changed the program from monthly to fortnightly due to growing issues with children in organised fights and drinking," Ms Frost said.
"And now it's quite a big issue again."
Manager at Gladstone Aboriginal and Islanders Co-operative Society Cedric Williams said the late-night issue needed more backing from parents and the community to see a permanent change.
He said the meet-ups and fights on Thursdays were quickly getting out of control, with children making a habit of announcing the time and place of a fight on social media and then watching and filming it.
"There's a reasonably high risk of someone getting killed one day," he said.
"Parents later just say they didn't know their kids were out there, that late, on a school night.
"But it's up to them and the public to change that. Have a curfew, be more strict, ground them ... we need to create some kind of community uproar so we can get government funding and find a permanent place for the kids to go to instead."
Mr Williams admitted it was expensive for children to play sport around town and said he understood parents needed to work and couldn't watch their children all the time.
"That's why we need to create an awareness and get people's ideas on what a long-term solution could be," he said.
Last Monday several different community groups gathered at the PCYC to discuss options to tackle the problem moving forward, however, a clear decision is yet to be reached.
"Children shouldn't have to be entertained all the time, but they do need somewhere to go and do what they want, in a controlled environment," Mr Williams said.
The Thursday Night Event program at Lions Park is open to children aged 12-18 years old and lets them hang out, use the skate park under the lights, have a free sausage sizzle and forge new relationships.
Orica Yarwun general manager Scott Reid said he was looking forward to being a part of the program.