Reaching out to youths on the street

26 March 2015

Youth Off The Street’s Canterbury-Bankstown Outreach Program, which engages young people in the community, received a $10,000 boost from Canterbury League Club recently.

The Outreach Program uses sports and recreational activities, music and dance, skills workshops and school holiday camps to engage and empower young people to make positive life changes and become independent young adults. Recipients also learn to develop leadership skills, build confidence and self-esteem, make new friends and grow social networks.

From there, the young people build relationships with youth workers who are on hand to offer relevant information, advice and referrals for education and training, employment, health and other youth-related issues.

“Bankstown Outreach provides a safe and welcoming place for young people at a time that suits them. It offers young people a first point of contact where they can access support and other community services.

“This program encourages ownership and fosters youth-led initiatives through facilitation of youth advisory groups. Other key elements of outreach involve youth consultations, service learning, peer mentoring and traineeships,” said Jill Summers, Account Manager for Youth Off The Streets (YOTS).

The push for a community program like this came in 2011 when a young person lost his life at the Bankstown train station. The local community invited YOTS to run an outreach program specific to the needs of disadvantaged young people within the area; receiving guidance on how to tailor the program from community leaders and local services.

The program has been running in the Canterbury-Bankstown area ever since then, helping over 13,396 instances of support for young people to find healthier alternatives to Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) and crime.

“We live in a society nowadays where parents are working longer hours to support their families so it becomes harder for some young people to interact with positive role models. I encourage more youth to take advantage of services such as the one offered by Youth Off The Street because a community program like this is a valuable source of information and full of positive experiences,” said Dr George Peponis OAM, Chairman of Canterbury League Club.