Renovated home for at-risk youth receives financial boost



A house in Canberra will be renovated to provide a safe, short-term home for young people in urgent need of support, with funding from the upcoming ACT budget and the Rotary Club of Canberra, in association with the ACT Youth Coalition .

Young Canberrans between the ages of eight and 15 who are at risk of becoming homeless or entering the justice system due to family disputes will continue to receive therapeutic respite accommodation and supports to help them return home. safely to the extent possible, Family and Community Services Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith announced today.

The minister said the upcoming ACT budget will provide continued funding to expand the Safe and Connected Youth program to include an element of residential therapeutic respite based on the Ruby’s reunification program which operates in South Australia.

“Safe and Connected Youth has been an incredibly successful partnership with young people and several non-governmental organizations, facilitated by the ACT Youth Coalition and the Rotary Club of Canberra,” said Ms. Stephen-Smith.

“Young people who have serious problems at home may be at risk of dropping out of school, becoming homeless and even entering the child welfare or youth justice system.

“The Safe and Connected Youth program works with a child or adolescent and their family, providing close support, therapeutic case management and family mediation, with the aim of reducing family conflict and ensuring a safe family environment” , she said.

“The Safe and Connected Youth pilot program helped most of the young people involved to return home safely and, where that was not possible, the program was able to steer them away from homelessness and provide them with a safe place to live. . “

The minister said the program will now be expanded to provide dedicated therapeutic respite accommodation in a renovated home that was designed jointly with young people who have experienced homelessness.

Dr David Marshall, president of the Rotary Vulnerable Youth Project, commended the ACT government for funding the renovation of the home for young people in need.

“Rotary is contributing financially to this renovation,” said Dr. Marshall. “The initiative, in association with the ACT Youth Coalition, will be the first of its kind in ACT where young people can stay while surrounded by youth support services. The ultimate goal is to get them back to live with their families. “

As part of the ACT 2021-2022 budget, $ 7 million will be provided over four years for the Safe and Connected Youth: Coordinated Service Response program, including:

  • $ 4.1 million for the operating costs of therapeutic respite accommodation
  • $ 2.6 million for early preservation outreach services, including mediation and social work
  • $ 157,000 for post-exit approach services
  • $ 185,000 to establish the program

Ms Stephen-Smith said this builds on $ 1.2 million provided under the 2020-2021 Fast-Track Renovation of a Housing ACT property to provide therapeutic respite accommodation for the youth involved. in the program.

Justin Barker, ACT Youth Coalition executive director, said the program is the first of its kind in Australia.

“The funding supports not only an early intervention service response, but also moderate and crisis interventions.

“It will cover both the local needs and the residential needs of children and young people at risk of homelessness. These services prevent youth homelessness and all the risks associated with it, ”said Barker.

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