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Charity to build youth hubs in communities hit by Black Summer fires

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Sony Foundation Australia, the youth charity backed by the Sony group of companies in Australia, said they have donated  $770,000 to build youth hubs for young people in five of the communities that were devastated by the Black Summer fires.

“Research shows that the specific needs of young people can often be overlooked in the midst of recovery. Evidence suggests that about one in four young people can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder following a natural disaster like the Black Summer fires. Many young people in regional areas have a hard time engaging in training, work and the wider community, which can be amplified in communities impacted by a bushfire disaster,” the foundation said in a statement.

To address this gap, Sony Foundation is funding pioneering youth programs to roll out in communities that were some of the hardest hit including; Nambucca Heads (Macksville), Tenterfield, Eden, Ulladulla and Mallacoota).

Sophie Ryan, CEO of Sony Foundation said the charity has donated over $36 million to programs, services and spaces to support young people in need across Australia since its inception in 1998.

“With a lack of social activities, employment opportunities and places to call their own, young people are often left behind in the recovery process. Sony Foundation has a track record of creating safe and supportive spaces for youth facing some of the toughest adversity. Places where they can go, make positive social networks and build resilience. It’s the basics for what every young Australian should have so they can have the best start in life,” she said.

A major grant of $450,000 has been committed to BackTrack Youth Works who are collaborating with Sony Foundation Australia, to build youth sanctuaries and deliver a youth resilience program that will include bushfire recovery work and training in the communities of Tenterfield and Macksville.

Bernie Shakeshaft, Founder and CEO of BackTrack said their youth development charity had been working for 15 years with young people in regional areas who’ve faced tough times, but never something like this.

“We knew following the Black Summer fires there would be many young people hurting. Bringing the BackTrack program to young people in these areas can give them a sense of purpose and hope, by enabling them to be a part of the recovery solution, both for themselves and the community,” he said.

Community-led and tailored to the needs of these young people, the programs will focus on supporting youth engagement like job skills, music therapy and coding workshops.

These communities will also benefit from innovative youth sanctuaries, some made from shipping containers inspired by the Christchurch Re-Start Mall, that will provide vibrant spaces where young people can socialise, learn new skills, and access free support services, among others.

$530,000 of the total funds came from sales of the Sony Music Entertainment Australia released “Artists Unite for Fire Fight: Concert for National Bushfire Relief,” a charity album that debuted at Number 1 on the ARIA albums chart. The album featured performances from local and global artists who performed at the concert in Sydney on 16 February 2020.

Reuben Styles from Sony Music artist, Peking Duk, said, “After the TV crews left, we wanted to make sure we were still supporting young people so terribly affected by the bushfires.”

“It is incredible to think that music has the power to inspire such generosity to fund youth hubs that will last long after the ash is gone,” Adam Hyde also from Peking Duk, said.

Sony Foundation Bushfire Appeal Funding will be donating $450,000 to BackTrack Youth Works, $200,000 to Foundation for Regional & Rural Renewal, $60,420 – PCYC South Coast, and $60,000 to Musicians Making A Difference.

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