Imagine a place where disadvantaged young people can gather to learn, engage with their community and build their employability skills in a supportive, chilled-out environment. This is exactly what CoAct member Youth Projects have built at their Youth Space centre in North-West Melbourne.
Co-designed by the young people it aims to support, Youth Projects' Youth Space is a dedicated space for young Australians who are experiencing issues, such as problems with their mental and physical health, alcohol and drug dependency, homelessness or unemployment. Through Youth Space, Youth Projects delivers deliver youth-specialised programs designed to break the cycles of welfare dependency and help young people achieve a future of independence.
An active member of the wider Melbourne community, Youth Projects consulted with young people in the North-West and identified that there was a lack of support, space and meaningful activities for them to engage into. The youth of the area needed somewhere to go which was flexible, tailored specifically for their needs and provided them with an array of supports to help them.
Youth Projects then collaborated with local councils, key committees and youth networks in the Melbourne CBD and North-West Melbourne to ensure that the model was suitable to not just for the youth that were already engaged with Youth Projects but also the wider population of young people.
Further collaboration was undertaken with local employers, training providers, community organisations and partners ensure that the model was tailored and targeted to the needs of young people and matched to the local labour market and wider community needs.
Full Schedule of Activities and Services
From Monday to Friday, the Youth Projects team deliver a wide range of services from the site, including the Transition to Work (TtW) program, Employability Skills Training, Accredited Training and YNOT (youth AOD counselling). Young people attend appointments with their coaches and clinicians, and engage in activities covering everything from life skills (cooking, games, arts) through to work preparation and job-ready skills.
Youth Space regularly plays host to ‘employer connection’ events, giving unemployed youth the opportunity to meet real life employers and discuss job opportunities and the skills and attributes employers look for when employing new staff. Community events also form a big part of the Youth Space calendar, highlighting issues that directly impact young people, such as youth homelessness, mental health and drug dependency.
On the weekends, the focus shifts to health, and visitors can seek advice from nurses, mental health professionals and youth workers. Or, at a time when very few other services in the region are open, Youth Space can simply act as a place for young people to chill and talk things out with their peers.
CoAct and its members understand that jobs change lives, and so a key measure of the success of Youth Project’s Youth Space has been the turnaround in youth employment in the region. Over the last 12 months, Youth Project’s Glenroy site has achieved 60 job placements and 29 education placements through the Transition to Work program, with a third of placements continuing beyond three months.
Equally as impressive is that more than 80% of youth assessed after 6 months of engagement into the Youth Space have demonstrated an increase in social skills, connection back to community and improvements in mental health and overall life.
Youth Projects is making a real difference to the lives of North-West Melbourne’s young people. By putting youth at the centre, and addressing multiple, related problems together, in a place of learning and inclusion, Youth Projects have achieved some fantastic results with Youth Space. In recognition of their success, and commitment to innovation, CoAct awarded Youth Projects with the prestigious 2017 Steve Lawrence Award.
For further information about how CoAct and our Service Partners like Youth Projects support individuals visit Working With Individuals.