Kiama moves closer to being plastic bag free

Some of the SRC students at the meeting: Jayden Wilshire, Bethany Chapman, Lucy Burton, Sam Scobie and Dominic Borserio

An initiative from last year’s Youth Engagement Meeting (YEM) at Kiama High, requesting consideration for making Kiama a plastic bag free town, has got real traction.

The YEM is a properly constituted meeting of Kiama Council held at the High School each year, involving councillors, senior staff and the Student Representative Council (SRC).

Council reports back to students on the matters raised and other actions agreed to from last year.

“This is a great initiative that has been going many years now, and one which all councillors and staff always look forward to,”says Mayor Mark Honey.

“Standing up and addressing or questioning a gathering of your elders is easier when it’s in a familiar environment such as your classroom, backed up by your fellow students.

“Certainly, in my time as Mayor, I’ve been impressed by the confidence of the students and the clarity and thoughtfulness of their contributions.”

This year’s meeting, held on 14 August, heard of the Kiama & District Business Chamber’s support for Kiama becoming plastic bag free.

“The Board agree and support this initiative and will be encouraging local businesses to consider going ‘plastic bag free’ and use biodegradable utensils,” said a letter from the Chamber that was read at the Meeting.

“We have also requested all of the market stall holders from the Kiama Seaside Markets do not use plastic bags at our markets and use environmentally friendly alternatives instead.”

While Council does not have the legislative power to ban plastic bags, it has worked towards the goal by supporting Kiama Boomerang Bags and the establishment of Reduce Reuse Recycle Kiama. In addition, a report from Council outlined its various initiatives to reduce the amount of plastic and other sorts of waste.

Some of the include investigating the feasibility of providing an organics collection service to commercial premises and ensuring large community events and Council-run events are required to offer recycling, with food sellers being required to use compostable packaging and utensils.

Last year’s YEM also called for more youth-focused music events in the area.

While much has been done in the intervening time, largely through Council’s SENTRAL Youth Centre,
Council’s Manager Community and Cultural Development, Nick Guggisberg, emphasised that youth shouldn’t rely on Council organising events for them.

“To be successful it has to be a partnership where we work with you.”

The same was said about the development of other youth events, with Council making event management training available.

Students were encouraged to apply for the Youth Arts Scholarship and nominate others for recognition through the Australia Day Young Citizen Award.

They were also made aware that this year all of the projects Council is nominating for $844,083 in funding through the State Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund will be ones supporting young people.

Council is holding a meeting on 28 August at SENTRAL at 3.30pm to seek feedback on the projects it
is proposing:

  • a BMX track in Minnamurra Quarry ($80k)
  • a mobile pump track ($140k)
  • a youth music festival/event ($60k)
  • a recording studio at SENTRAL ($150k)
  • workskills courses ($75k)
  • three annual youth-led music festivals ($60k).

“The funding bodies are keen to see that these are things young people want to get involved with,” said General Manager, Kerry McMurray.

Issues raised by the students included:

  • student parking
  • parking outside the medical services when the Farmers’ Market is on
  • creating night markets
  • establishing an advisory committee of Aboriginal people for Council
  • improving the state of the toilet facilities in the CBD
  • dealing with the rubbish left behind around the Earn & Return station
  • fighting the sandmining proposal at Dunmore
  • improving the design of the Gerringong Skate Park.

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