Federal member calls for calm

The Federal Member for Bendigo has called for calm in response to the hype surrounding a small group of Bendigo youth gathering in the Hargreaves Mall.

"From my experience, I have always found Hargreaves Mall to be a safe place,” said Ms Chesters.  “I’m disappointed with the Liberal candidate’s comments on this issue.  To make such alarmist public comments will deter shoppers from the Mall and does nothing to resolve the situation.”

"Youth have gathered in market places since the beginning of time.  This spot in the Hargreaves Mall is the intersection of many of our youth education institutions in the CBD and is a natural meeting place.  At the moment there is no viable alternative place for young people in the CBD to gather,” said Ms Chesters.

Ms Chesters asks that the community take a more inclusive approach to this issue.

"These are our young people and it's up to us as a community to work together to help resolve the matter. Perhaps we can work together to create a safe Youth space and drop in centre.

"We should also look to restore vital youth engagement programs such as Youth Connection cut by the Liberal Government in the 2014 budget,” Ms Chesters said.

Ms Chesters made the comments the day before the launch of the La Trobe University Labor Club’s Enrol to Vote campaign.

The AEC believes that 380,000 of people in the 18-25 age bracket, or almost 18 percent, are currently not enrolled.

"It's not surprising that young potential voters are not on the roll.  For many it may be the first election they are eligible to vote in.

"My message to younger voters is to get involved and have your say. The next Australian Government will make decisions that will affect your generation for many years to come.

"Politics can be exciting and impacts almost every aspect of our lives - from university funding to your rights at work to housing affordability.  Name an issue and we can link it back to politics.

"I continued to be inspired by our local young people and their compassion, values and vision. Like any generation, they have their challenges but with encouragement and inclusion they will help us find solutions and hope for the rest of their generation and future generations,” said Ms Chesters.