Youth Issues

Auburn Youth Centre’s programs and services aimed to respond to the needs which youth thought were at the forefront. In a 1986 survey, students at Birrong Boys were asked what the biggest problem facing kids today was, and responded:

  • Substance abuse (280)
  • Nothing to do (183)
  • Unemployment (139)
  • Smoking (128)

Grant Howard, youth worker for the Lidcombe Salvation Army Youth Centre outlined that the main issues among local youth were substance abuse, homelessness, and very little to do which turned kids to vandalism, drugs and alcohol [1].

In May 1986, the Auburn Community Council for Social Development, Youth Research Planning Group proposed a $300 grant from the council to conduct a youth survey and competition to find out what exactly was on the minds of the local youth[2]. Funding was rejected but the survey went ahead anyway. It was open to all 12-21 year olds in the Auburn Municipality. The entries to the competition reveal a lot about the concerns of youth in Auburn around the time that AYC was established. In particular, the ‘poems’ category whose theme was ‘needs of young people in Auburn’ is telling of the kinds of issues which local youth struggled with, and thus outlined potential areas of support for community organisations like AYRC to address[3].

The following poems are entries are found in theAuburn Youth Magazine: 1986 Youth Competition’, available at Lidcombe Library.








Several key issues are touched on by these entries – drug abuse, boredom, neglect, a disconnect between youth and adults, the need for an outlet to voice concerns, and platforms for action to be taken. In its various programs, as well as its advocacy for youth agency, Auburn Youth Centre addressed a key need amongst local youth.


[1] Auburn Review, April 30, 1986, p. 3.

[2] Auburn Review, May 28, 1986, p. 3.

[3] Auburn Review, June 4, 1986, p1. and August 13, 1986, p. 8.