The Big Red Bus - Port Macquarie
The Big Red Bus visits towns and villages in the Hastings Valley region including Port Macquarie, Wauchope and Gloucester. It operates not only as a youth centre but a place where all community members, young and old, can meet and connect. The bus is staffed by a number of young adults from a range of local community organisations working together as a team to offer services to improve their community. It has also galvanized a large number of volunteers who are passionate about helping others and bringing their community together.
The main objectives of the project were to foster a sense of community, belonging and purpose in the area's young people that would positively affect their lifestyle choices. The project team renovated a 1960s red double-decker bus, fitting it out with sporting equipment, a climbing wall, computer gaming technology and a café. The bus now provides Tuesday evening meals at the beach to over 100 residents each week, as well as a Christmas breakfast. It has provided health checks at local shows such as Gloucester and Wingham, and been there to celebrate numerous community events including Homeless Week and Drug & Alcohol Awareness Week.
The bus has achieved its objective of creating a safe and positive environment for young people to meet friends and youth mentors, and participate in fun activities. It has also delivered programs and activities that enhance life skills and help young people feel a sense of belonging and connectedness to their community.
The Big Red Bus was funded in 2008 and is still going strong.