The Safe & Connected Youth Program is designed and targeted to address a known service gap in the ACT with underservicing and lack of support in accommodation for young people under the age of 16. This age cohort was identified in the 2004 ‘Breaking the cycle: ACT Homelessness Strategy’. This critical need was never adequately addressed in the ACT, whilst other states led the way in developing supportive accommodation for children at risk of homelessness.
Safe & Connected Youth Program is based off successful evidence informed programs from other jurisdictions across Australia (NSW Homeless Youth Assistance Program) and is being seen by the ACT Government as the gold standard in program design and service delivery. The Program has been a successful collaboration as each organisation is offering unique services and strengths. The Program uses staff who are experts in mediation, therapeutic case management, emergency respite accommodation and collaborates with schools, statutory bodies, and the community sector.
The ongoing need for services to respond to the existing relationships that children have with their families is at the core of this service model. This aims to support children to remain with their family, while also providing safe temporary and long-term accommodation options where necessary.
Extensive research highlights the linkage between family conflict, youth homelessness and the negative outcomes for young people. The Program uses an early intervention model which reduces the risk of young people entering homelessness, disengaging from school or education, social settings, or coming into contact with the youth justice system.
The Program was established as a response to the issue with youth homelessness, however it has seen clients self-report improvements in mental health, re-engagement with education and training, overall personal wellbeing and decreased drug and alcohol use.