We opened in 1993 in the Hindmarsh Park Heritage Cottages.
Our centre was designed to meet the needs of young people aged 12 – 25 in the Kiama Local Government Area and to provide a safe, supervised environment for them to meet up, develop friendships and gain life skills to help them reach their potential.
One of the many highlights of our early years included the ‘Blowout’ concerts from 1997–99.
The concerts featured some of the best bands in Australia and drew crowds of over 10,000.
‘Blowout’ concerts put Kiama on the map as a drawcard for national and international acts.
The ‘Blowout’ concerts also inspired a generation of local musicians to form bands and perform at the old Kiama Pavilion and Gerringong Town Hall.
For many years before the impact of social media, our Youth Centre was a genuine hub for young people.
Over 100 people attended each week.
As technology advanced and young people developed new social networks, the need for a new approach to delivering youth services became evident.
The original aims of Kiama Youth Centre were to provide a safe, supervised drop in space where young people could spend time, play pool, basketball and just ‘chill out’.
As their needs changed, particularly with the introduction of technology and social media, it became obvious that the drop in model was old, tired and less-effective.
In 2010 Council’s Youth Services made the conscious decision to overhaul our model of service delivery.
Through ongoing consultation with young people and community partners including Kiama High School, we identified that young people wanted more:
- training and education opportunities
- skills development workshops
- information on a range of youth specific issues including mental and physical health, and employment, and
- general positive mentoring and role modelling.
Key priorities for our new service model are the building blocks of SENTRAL:
- Life skills
This model combines drop-ins with targeted health, well-being and skills programs.
Over the next 6 years we renovated to create a space that complimented our SENTRAL model.
It included installing a commercial kitchen with the purpose of training young people in hospitality.
We also created multi-functional youth spaces that could be used for anything from personal fitness training to educational workshops.
These changes ensured that when young people came to SENTRAL, they left with a greater skills base and knowledge.
Attendance at all of our SENTRAL programs has increased dramatically, between 80-90% since we changed service model.
One example of this is our Youth Advisory Committee.
For years it struggled to attract any more than 2-4 young people.
Now we have 15-25 young people at each meeting and have introducted a full Council Meeting that takes place at Kiama High School every year.
Our change of service has attracted strategic collaborations designed to further improve opportunities for young people.
To name just a few, we now have partnerships with:
- Kiama Business Chamber
- Kiama Rotary
- Kiama Leisure Centre
- all schools in our LGA
- local businesses
- Kiama Farmers Markets
- Kiama Tourism.