Industry members provide new youth outreach support bus

Tailored Chatterbox Bus will hit the streets next month thanks to community donations

Industry members provide new youth outreach support bus
The retiring Chatterbox bus.


Led by industry stalwart Ivan Backman, the transport community has provided a new youth outreach vehicle for not-for-profit organisation Whitelion.

One of a number of high-profile business people successfully promoting the initiative on behalf of the charity, Backman and Whitelion CEO Mark Watt have announced Crown Coaches have committed to replace the Chatterbox Bus, which offers an after-hours service for youths five nights a week.

"The Chatterbox Bus outreach service is saving lives and thankfully Crown Coaches and key members of the transport industry recognise that and are working with us, Property Industry Foundation and Colonial Foundation to deliver a bus that meets the needs of young people on the streets in Melbourne’s CBD," Backman says.

The new bus, set to be launched at a VTA-supported morning tea event on Thursday, June 18, will allow the current, deteriorating support vehicle to retire after years of service.  

Before it is ready to hit the road, the vehicle is being customised to include conversation spaces, cupboards, a computer station and electrical appliances from The Good Guys Northland.

The internal transformation is being completed at a discounted rate by RoadTrek and supported by Brighton Rotary Club, who is covering any additional costs. A generator is also being supplied by Honda.

Operating from Tuesdays to Saturdays in the centre of Melbourne, the Chatterbox provides both food and health supplies to disadvantaged youth but also transports a number of volunteers and Chatterbox Street Outreach Program coordinators for support.

The program, which hosted 2,612 young people in the last four months of 2014, was seen as a means to help, Crown Coaches managing director Vic Haoust says.

"When we were given the opportunity to make a difference for young Australians through such a dedicated charity, we knew it had to be done," Haoust says.

"We are committed to the Chatterbox Bus 100 per cent."

The exterior of the bus will be painted blue to match the previous bus and Crown Coaches colours, and covered in decals provided by a Chatterbox volunteer and FBT Transwest.

The Chatterbox Street Outreach Program aims to help youths between 10 and 25 years, who are dealing with family breakdowns, homelessness, unemployment and the abuse of drug and alcohol.   

The new bus will be launched at the Fox Classic Car Museum in Melbourne on Thursday, June 18 at a morning tea. The event will run from 10am to midday.

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