Girls Empowered Together program Woden Community Service

The GET program is an early intervention program which aims to help young women build positive self-esteem and self-image, foster resilience, improve emotional and physical wellbeing, maintain positive relationships, and increase the capacity for vulnerable young females to be safe and independent. This was done through providing education on topics surrounding health and wellbeing as well as service visits to show the girls the support services available for them to access in the ACT. They were also taught various techniques and tools to empower them to support themselves and each other when service intervention isn’t necessary. Each week the group covered nine different topics, these topics were; positive self-talk and self-esteem, body image, healthy relationships, sexual Health, AOD, safety and self-defence, anxiety, stress management, destructive & constructive coping strategies and SMART goals. In week ten the girls engaged in reflective conversation and evaluation, and we had graduation ceremony.

The girls in the program were at risk young females, 13- 15 years of age, who reside or attend school in South Canberra. This particular age group enabled the program to be a form of early intervention for young females and attempt to prevent them from becoming disengaged due to matters faced in an education and social setting. The program focuses on educating the young females on issues and topics they face daily both in and out of a school environment, and how they can manage these issues in a way they feel supported and hopefully encouraged to stay in school.

This program was created based on the need for health and wellbeing support and education for young females. This need was demonstrated to YET through the daily interactions they have with vulnerable at risk young women in drop in and case management as well as schools reaching out for support.

PCYC Adventure Program

The Canberra PCYC Adventure program is an early intervention program for vulnerable young people who are disengaged from education, engaged in anti-social behaviour, and are highly at-risk of contact with the justice system. The 20-week program includes daily sessions addressing social and emotional wellbeing, life skills training, social skills training, goal making, followed by the “sick as” tailored PCYC adventure activities including motorbiking, mountain biking, kayaking, swimming and bush adventuring.

The program involves collaboration with other community services and government agencies, including The Junction, Street Uni, Cancer Council, the AFP, and youth centres. Prior to graduation, external services and supports are aligned to ensure smooth transition to appropriate support networks beyond PCYC.

The program has previously included teenage males and females, and in 2018, the program was adapted to include young people aged 8 – 12, in order to address the service gap for early intervention programs addressing this particular age group.

Outcomes have included young people increasing their ability to control emotions, returning to mainstream schooling, improved relationships in the family home, improved mental and physical health, having better knowledge of services, gaining employment, and gaining stronger connections to community.

YWCA Canberra Clubhouse & ACT Parks and Conservation Service

‘What’s Your Reality: A Journey Through Virtual Worlds’ is a free program delivered by YWCA Canberra Clubhouse & ACT Parks and Conservation Service. The mission is to harness the power of virtual reality (VR) to make Canberra’s natural parks and reserves accessible to all.

The Clubhouse has engaged ten students in year nine at Calwell High School to deliver this program and represent Canberra in the Parallel Parks program, where young people create virtual reality content that is designed specifically for young people with a disability.

The health benefits of adventure and being connected to nature are undisputed, but accessing Canberra’s nature-based experiences isn’t possible for everyone, especially those with a physically restrictive disability. Through the Parallel Parks program, young people with muscular dystrophy will be able to explore Canberra’s nature-based experiences through the eyes of participating students. The participants research the many activities available in Canberra Nature Parks, Mulligans Flat, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Namadgi National Park, and have chosen fun and exciting activities that they would want to experience if they themselves had a physically restrictive disability. Using the new GoPro Fusion 360° filming technology, participants are venturing out in nature, filming their experiences, and commentating throughout. Participants are also learning how to use the GoPro film editing software and their experiences are being uploaded onto a dedicated YouTube channel that will be used by people living with a disability.

This is just the beginning for Parallel Parks, and the impact that ‘What’s Your Reality’ will have on young people throughout Australia who have a desire, but not the ability to get out and have fun in the bush. ACT Parks and Conservation Service is also in discussions with disability organisations in the ACT exploring opportunities to share these experiences.