Editorial: A town that caters for the needs of all

It’s tough being young. You have a clear sense of individual identity, you have your own interests, but you have little of the power or autonomy that comes with adulthood.

TYRANNY OF DISTANCE: Australia's wide open spaces are hard on the young, who need their own space. Photo: file.

TYRANNY OF DISTANCE: Australia's wide open spaces are hard on the young, who need their own space. Photo: file.

As an adult, you get used to making your own decisions and getting yourself places. It’s not easy, adult life is a mire of decision making and responsibility, but at least you have the power to decide your own path.

In Australia, becoming an autonomous adult and getting a drivers licence are often one and the same. Sure, if you live in the inner city you might not need a car to get around, but as inner city gives way to urban sprawl, and that to scattered country towns, it becomes almost impossible to navigate without either endless time, or your own vehicle.

Where adults have the mobility to indulge their own interests, teenagers are often reliant on family and friends to get around. In a town like Braidwood public transport is almost nonexistent, and the nearest city would be four hours ride, along a highway.

Teenagehood is also a time of identity formation, where you want to explore who you are and establish an identity as separate from that of your family. Friends become more important in your life, as you cease to be completely dependent on your parents.

Teenage friendships like this need space, physical space, to flourish. As much as you love your teenager, and your teenager loves you, they need places to try out being the person they want to become. School is one of these places, but it’s not enough. Teenagers need somewhere safe to go, where they can test the waters of an adult identity.

Having a beautiful heritage listed streetscape is a great thing for a town – because it is interesting, fosters a thriving town economy and attracts visitors – but it’s not a good in itself. Ultimately, the town is for those who live here and our streetscape should cater for the needs of all residents.

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