Youth: Berwick housing
My adjournment matter is for the attention of the Minister for Housing and concerns the youth accommodation facility in Bellevue Drive, Berwick, which is operated by WAYSS (Western Port Accommodation and Youth Support Services). The action I seek is that the minister reinstate supervision of the residents of this facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When the youth accommodation facility at the Berwick site was first proposed around two years ago local residents had concerns about the limited hours of supervision of the young people, who for a number of reasons cannot live at home. I supported the request of local residents to extend supervision hours to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The project proceeded, and local young people have lived at the units on Bellevue Drive without incident for almost two years.
Indeed residents had not reported any incidents to me until recently. However, there has been an unfortunate incident of a stabbing on Bellevue Drive in which one of the young residents was implicated. Advice I received from WAYSS indicates that the youth concerned had been living at the units for eight months without incident but had intervened in an altercation between two other people. The youth suffered a minor injury, which was treated locally.
I acknowledge that residents have genuine concerns and are deeply worried about what happened and what may happen next, and I certainly sympathise with them. Local residents have told me, and the local newspapers have indicated, that they would like the facility relocated. I also note that supervision for 24 hours a day, seven days a week ceased around 10 months ago. I am of the opinion that the young residents of this facility should be supervised 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Currently there is only 24-hour supervision between Friday and Sunday.
I fully understand why an incident like this would exacerbate concerns that local residents already hold. However, if the young people are going to stay at the current site in Berwick — the Baillieu government has so far shown no inclination to relocate the facility — then we need this issue resolved as fairly as possible for both the local residents and the young people living in the units. We need to meet the needs of young people in the care of WAYSS but also ensure that there is as little impact as possible on the amenity of local residents. Local residents have the right to live in safety and peace. I strongly believe that supervision for 24 hours a day, seven days a week would go a long way towards achieving this, as it has in the past, and would address some of the concerns of local residents. I call on the minister to act on this matter immediately.