PERFORMING arts and youth group-style activities could be the answer to getting Rowville youth off the street, a community member says.

KC Boey, a member of the Rowville Anglican Church known as RAFT and its former community relations manager, spoke about his ideas at a Rowville community forum.

New solution: KC Boey says the church can help young people in Rowville just by being a venue. Picture: Wayne Hawkins

One of his ideas was for church groups and other community groups to offer secular activities that would appeal to young people in the growing suburb.

“Whether it is a church or a temple or mosque or a council building, they all have one thing in common.

“They have facilities for ankle-biters and the aged, but very little for youth and young adults — there is a big void,” Mr Boey said.

RAFT offers dance lessons, mechanic groups, tutoring and music lessons. “We are not all about getting people to become Anglican. We as a family at RAFT have the same issues as everybody else,” Mr Boey said.

“Our youth and young people have the same problems. When they get to that age of rebellion, we have to put on our thinking cap to provide activities that are not necessarily to do with the Bible.”

At the workshop, he told the group that the changing composition of Rowville — with more Malaysian, Sri Lankan and Chinese families moving in — could potentially make Rowville the cultural hub of Knox.

“Rowville is a unique suburb with a higher socio-economic status and the council would not have to inject funds to initiate this objective,” Mr Boey said.

He would like to a see a partnership created between Rowville Secondary College and Monash University’s Academy of the Arts — “we need to be more imaginative and proactive, thinking outside the box”.

“The new arrivals highly value education and see performing arts and culture as an extension of education. If we keep young people occupied [playing music], they will have no reason to look for something else to.”

Mr Boey said it would be a win for both parties and called on the council to facilitate meetings between the parties.

His comments followed an article in the Weekly about a campaign for a skate park adjacent to Wellington Village because of a lack of facilities for young people in Rowville.

Cr Nicole Seymour said she heard “loud and clearly” at the forum that public transport and road congestion were the biggest concerns for Rowville residents.

Other issues included parks and open space, leafy streetscapes and views, and retail and general activities. A follow-up workshop will be held in May.

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