The Safe and Connected Youth Program provides intensive, therapeutic support to young people aged 8-15 years and their families. The program works holistically with the family and ensures the young person’s voice is at the centre of decision making. The program provides assertive outreach, meditation, family counselling and therapeutic accommodation.
Over the past three years, the program, in collaboration with Housing ACT, IKEA and the Youth Coalition have been working with a cohort of young people, who have experienced homelessness, to design and furnish the program’s therapeutic accommodation. This process began at the beginning stages of renovating the property, where young people were taken through and supported to share with Housing ACT what they would like to see in the house, and what would make it feel like a home. Once renovations were complete, CRS supported the same group of young people back out to the house to see the renovations and share their thoughts on the design. The group were asked to give their input on what they felt would make the house a space that was “home-like” and where young people would feel welcome and safe. The program then supported a group of young people, some from the initial group, and some existing clients of the program, to attend IKEA to create a mood board and shop for the house furnishings. As a result, both the activity room and counselling room at the house are fully designed by young people. Young people were compensated for their time throughout the process to acknowledge their input, ideas and suggestions. By co-designing the space with young people, the program has been able to capture the voice of the young person and ensure the environment is reflective of the vulnerable cohort SACY supports. Through engaging the same young people throughout the process, they were able to have ownership over the process and witness their contribution come to fruition. This process gave these young people hope in the sector and a sense that their experiences and their decisions have been able to make a difference for future young people needing support.