Betty Makin Youth Awards

(Redfern Town Hall)

Thank you, Jessica, and thank you, Auntie Norma for your Welcome to Country. I would like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and I pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present.

I also welcome the Elders here today, as well as the young people, their families and friends. Also Cr John McInerney, and especially Jill Edwards and her family.

Jill is the daughter of Betty Makin, for whom these annual youth awards are named. She was a truly remarkable social activist, devoting her energies to making life better for inner city communities - especially for young people and their families.

I'm pleased to note the recent recognition of Betty when the Redfern Redevelopment housing estate on Phillip and Morehead Streets dedicated its community room to be named for Betty. It was formally launched on February 18 and will remain as a permanent memorial to her.

This awards evening honours her memory in a way she would be proud of - by recognising the importance of activism and service in our local communities, and by encouraging the young people of inner-Sydney to play their part in building stronger, healthier communities.

The scholarships and awards presented here this evening will go to individuals and groups of young people who have not only excelled in the past year, but whose work has benefitted others within the City. This could be through developing projects, programs or services; by involvement in local activities, or by showing an active commitment to a community service.

Tonight, we're also presenting a Youth project or Program Award which recognises the dedication and commitment of services in the local communities to helping young people in their activities. These programs can be education, recreational, or employment based.

And finally, we have the City of Sydney Police Award, which recognises the work and commitment of local police to developing good relations with young people, and improving their lives, and the lives of their families.

It is vital that we have police in local communities who are dedicated to helping young people, and empowering them. The work of the City's seven Youth Liaison Officers and PCYC staff is invaluable, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each and every police officer working in these roles.

As many of you know, this Awards ceremony is just one of the many events hosted by the City and non-government organisations during Youth Week. Youth Week has been part of the NSW calendar since 1989 and following the success of the program in this State, it became a national event in 2000.

There are a number of Youth Week events in the City but our landmark event for this year is the Centre Stage Under 18s Dance Party. It will be held on April 10, in the Lower Town Hall, from 7 until 10pm.

It's an important event, recognising that young people should have safe and fun options to enjoy the City at night. Its organisation has involved the efforts of both Council and outside organisations, and I'd like to thank all those who've made it possible - and urge the young people here this evening to come along and have a ball!

Other events in the City include the smartARts Youth Arts & Cultural Festival, the Youth Week Film Night, the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence art workshops, table tennis tournament and movie night, as well as the Youth Week Sports Day.

If you need any information about the Dance Party or any of the other terrific events organised for Youth Week, just ask one of the City youth workers.

I hope you'll all join in one - or all - of these events. I'd specially like to thank all the local young people who've been involved in planning and staging these events as well, of course, as the staff who work so hard to bring you an exciting and memorable series of events.

Have a fantastic night this evening, and thank you.