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New funding to reduce child homelessness, support families and strengthen our community

ACT Minister for Children, Youth and Families Rachel Stephen-Smith has allocated $470,000 this financial year to the Safe and Connected Youth Program, on top of a $1 million commitment to build fit-for-purpose respite accommodation for young people under the age of 16.

The Safe and Connected Youth Program team

The Youth Coalition welcomes continued funding for the Safe and Connected Youth (S&CY) Program. This early intervention program works with young people under the age of 16 and their families to improve parent-child relationships and family functioning, to reduce the risk of young people becoming homeless.

The S&CY Program is a collaboration between five community organisations: the Conflict Resolution Service, Woden Community Service, Northside Community Service, Marymead and the Youth Coalition. Highly skilled practitioners use a combination of outreach, therapeutic case work, family mediation and temporary respite accommodation to support young people and families to strengthen and sustain positive relationships.

The fit-for-purpose accommodation site will be based on the Ruby’s model in South Australia. Ruby’s is an evidence-based model, providing young people with a safe place to stay while also working with families to resolve conflict and improve relationships. Ruby’s has a high rate of reunification of young people returning home to their families.

“The Safe and Connected Youth Program provides families with supports and services to alleviate some of the social and structural pressures placed on families, “ said Dr Justin Barker, Executive Director of the Youth Coalition. “By providing early support, it works to build families’ resilience and strength. The new respite accommodation based on the Ruby’s model will provide an evidence-based, developmentally appropriate response to these children and young people, recognising that they often want to remain connected to their families.”

Cindylee Young, a Therapeutic Case Worker for the S&CY Program says, “working with these young people and their families has been incredibly rewarding… watching them reconnect and strengthen their relationships with their family … It’s the best feeling in the world. Knowing that a facility is being built for the program is such a relief. It will allow us to provide better support and know that we can continue to work with these families.”

The Youth Coalition of the ACT extends a thank-you to all members of the ACT Legislative Assembly, and particularly to the Treasurer and Chief Minister, Minister for Children and Young People, and Minister for Housing, for recognising the urgency of this issue and committing to support these vulnerable young people and families.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the ACT Government and the community in the further development of the S&CY Program and establishment of the respite accommodation site in the ACT,” said Dr Barker. “By continuing to work together, the Canberra community can support these children and young people to be safe, to grow and develop, and be part of our thriving community.”

Key Points

$470,000 has been allocated this financial year to the Safe and Connected Youth Program

$1 million has been commited to building fit-for-purpose accommodation for young people under the age of 16

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