The event was aimed at helping young people build awareness of their wellbeing and how it can affect the rest of their life. Participants learnt strategies for improving mental health and acquired tools they could immediately take away and use – all in a fun, no-pressure environment. For us it was also a great opportunity to network with other youth support services and come together on a common passion. 103 people attended the venue at EV’s Youth Centre.
A significant part of overcoming personal barriers is ‘getting comfortable with discomfort’. The discomfort is often a sign of change and growth. As cosy and compelling as it may be – real growth doesn’t often happen in our comfort zone. In fact, it is at the edge of the comfort zone that people begin to truly discover their strengths and potential.
At the centre of the event venue we set up a literal ‘Comfort Zone’. The space was designed to be as cosy and compelling as possible, with couches, pillow cushions, mood lighting, lava lamps, food and chill-out music softly playing in the background. Participants don’t have to ever leave the comfort zone if they don’t want to. However, some inspiring posters around the venue promoted the rewards of taking action.
The action they could take, if they chose, is to participate in any of the several activities, presentations, workshops and games that they could see going on around them in the venue. Each activity had a theme of improving your wellbeing and mental health. Activities are detailed below.
Anyone who participates in an activity, gets a ‘You Did It Ticket’. Participants put their tickets collected into a lucky draw to win exciting prizes. The more activities they took part in, the higher the probability of winning. This worked as a metaphor for the rewards that come from stepping out of your comfort zone.
We wrapped things up with 8 participants winning prizes at the lucky draw. Young people could see that getting out your comfort zone in life, brings rewards. You might make a new friend, achieve something, have fun or learn something that could change your life.
We want to thank the organisations who came together to make this event happen. Teams on the day did such an excellent job of keeping young people engaged and showing them something new. Thank you to the youth workers and school coordinators who brought their young people along. And of course – thank you to all the young people who participated and put themselves out there – well done!
Karim, right, with Sticking Together Project participant Lachlan, left
It’s a research-driven program that uses innovative tools and practice to give young people the maximum chance of success when entering into and sticking to employment.
It represents a big change in the way that a young person interacts with an employment service. Our coaches are highly mobile and constantly problem solving. They are tasked with developing a strong rapport with the young people they support and working with them through whatever they need to do to be prepared for fruitful employment.
Recently, we asked Sticking Together Project Coach Karim about his experience.
I started with SYC in October 2016, in the leadup to the beginning of the Sticking Together Pilot.
Before joining SYC I had recently moved to Melbourne from Perth where I was working in Community Services for 6 years, most recently delivering leadership development to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at a number of high schools in Perth.
I grew up in east Africa, living in Kenya and Uganda for 6 years before moving back to Australia. I’m a massive AFL/NBA/Soccer tragic and have a cheeky bugger of a dachshund called Frank!
During my interview I could see the passion and dedication that SYC had towards creating an innovative and agile program aimed at breaking the long-term cycle of youth unemployment. The research and work that went into developing the pilot before launch was impressive.
I like having the flexibility to support the young people in our program. You’re not confined to working in an office and it helps to change things up with the young people.
Being able to see the change in the young people and see them develop and build the foundations of the future.
Ingrained habits and values are always hard to change but through trusting the process of the tools and the program you can see real change in the young people.
That patience and persistence really pays off, and that self-awareness is one of the most crucial skills needed for success in life no matter what path you take.
Someone who is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of young people and change them for the better. Also, someone who is adaptable to working in different situations and with people facing a variety of barriers.
I hope that the Sticking Together Project can expand dramatically to change the lives of many more young people to help get them ready and able to deal with challenges they may face in the future. Being able to tackle employment barriers at the source and over an extended period of time will benefit not only the young people but their families, friends and wider community.
Karim’s hopes are beginning to be realised! We recently announced that the Sticking Together Project will be expanded to support almost 900 young people in New South Wales, over the next four years. This is thanks to a $10m social impact investment with the NSW Department of Industry.
If you – or someone you know – are interested in working in a really challenging, but rewarding environment, we have a few coaching positions still advertised.
She has been with SYC for nearly 19 years and at 71 years young, she has no plans to slow down now.
In her time with the organisation, she has had many roles within our Job Prospects sites including time as an Employment Consultant, Site Coordinator and Site Manager. She found her groove though as a Claims Administrator supporting the Management teams, a role she still holds today.
Margaret looks upon her experience working directly with clients very fondly.
“When I first started I was given some great advice – that it would be a challenging job but it would also be rewarding.
“If you can turn someone around who is on the wrong track and get them heading in a better direction that is a major win!
“If you were working with a really challenging client it was a great thrill when you finally got through to them and broke down the barriers. It is a real buzz when you get someone to the 6 month mark in a new job and get to have the conversation that they don’t need your help anymore,” Margaret said.
She says Margaret is an amazing asset to the team.
“Margaret is the mother duck of the office. She always has her drawers full of lollies and is always available to lend an ear to anyone who needs to talk.
“She is an exceptional staff member, a great friend and someone I care dearly about.
“Margaret has been such a great help to me over my 10 years with SYC. She is a beautiful soul and she makes a mean ‘Ham Heart’ too! Job Prospects Elizabeth staff know what I’m talking about.” Jodie said.
Over the years, Margaret said she has worked with a number of different teams. She has found that people who work for SYC really care about the people they are there to assist.
“I really enjoy working with likeminded people who are passionate about assisting people to regain a feeling of self-worth; improve their current situation or assist them to start on the road to achieving their goals,” she said.
Margaret herself is a very valued team member; she said everyone always tells her she is not allowed to leave.
“The team tell me all the time that I’m not allowed to retire, I’m part of the furniture here now!” Margaret said.
The SYC Super Quiz began in Adelaide in the 1980s. It was one of a number of activities used to fund important initiatives to support and educate young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Held at the Adelaide Town Hall the annual event was not only a fundraiser but also an opportunity for the organisation to promote its work in the community and grow its networks.
In the 90s, bingo made a resurgence as a social activity at pubs and clubs in Australia. It also became a popular addition to fundraising events and SYC started interchanging between bingo and quiz events as our major annual fundraiser.
Scott Whitmore, who was part of SYC’s fundraising team in the early 2000s, said bingo events were very well attended and guests always had a great night.
“Bingo became trendy, as everyone could get involved. If you lost a game you had another chance in the next round.
“It got loud and boisterous and everyone had a good time.
“The event grew and kept outgrowing the venue,” he said.
Over the years both the quiz and bingo events kept growing as the organisation expanded too. In 2008, SYC celebrated its 50th milestone at the Entertainment Centre with Guy Sebastian providing the entertainment. While there was no quiz at the event, it set the scene for the coming years, as the event grew into the HYPA Boileau Gala Quiz Night with over 500 people in attendance each year.
Some of SYC’s biggest supporters from the smaller bingo and quiz days who remain key supporters today are Angelique and Michael Boileau from Boileau Business Technology.
They have been very generous over the years donating items and providing event sponsorship and more recently were the Presenting Partners of the event.
“We have been involved with SYC for the past two decades and in that time it has changed and grown dramatically, expanding its services across Australia.
“However, SYC still stays true to thier core purpose of helping those in need on their path to prosperity, which is why we choose to support the important work they do,” Angelique Boileau said.
Under the leadership of Max Kau, SYC was advocating for young people within community groups, including SA Police. Max said SYC worked to break down any barriers that existed between them.
“SYC had a productive relationship with SA Police that strengthened over time.
“SYC would work with officers to assist and advocate young people in trouble with the law and SA Police would also refer young people to us if they needed support.
“I was invited by SA Police to regularly lecture new recruits. It was important to both organisations that police officers were aware of the issues effecting young people, as ultimately it would help them to do their job well,” he said.
The young cadets came to SYC and worked alongside youth workers to learn about the barriers that young people were experiencing. This included unemployment, unstable housing, lack of recreational activities and relationship breakdowns with families. They also learnt about the programs and services that SYC provided to support young people in the community.
Michael Murphy was the first police cadet to intern with SYC and the three-week placement provided him with the opportunity to work with staff and volunteers. Michael said it was an invaluable experience to connect with young people seeking support.
“I was not aware of the difficulty so many young people faced finding employment at that time,”
“When I finished school, my friends and I chose what careers we wanted to pursue and went straight into work. I didn’t realise there were so many young people struggling in South Australia. It was great to see firsthand the work SYC was doing to support young people.
“My time with SYC definitely made me a better police officer,” he said.
In recent years, SYC and SA Police have worked closely together through community engagement initiatives like the SAPOL’s Community Constables program and Blue Light. SA Police and SYC have maintained a positive working relationship and sought to be consultative in both a community space and as advocates when working with young people.
This month the HYPA North Team ran their famous Amazing Race! OK sure. There were no flights to exotic locations. There was no life-changing cash prize up for grabs and there wasn’t a 10 person camera crew and weekly tv show to cover it. But…
The 2018 HYPA North TtW Amazing Race was a fantastic opportunity for young people in our community to get a head start on their search for work. Just like the first race held in 2016, it proved to be a huge hit with the young people who came. They worked their way through the checkpoints and challenges set up at various locations around Elizabeth, like pros.
A tightly contested paper toss game determined the starting order for the 3 teams. They then began their adventure with a stop at NASC (Northern Adelaide Senior College) where they had to solve a find-a word puzzle before getting their next clue. Job Prospects Elizabeth office was checkpoint 2, where they were tasked with matching resumes to job vacancies online before getting their envelope to move on to checkpoint 3.
Bank SA Elizabeth hosted the 3rd checkpoint. Sue and Graeson had gone above and beyond with decorations, a fun money quiz and a fantastic gift bag for each participant. There were lots of laughs and good banter here and everyone came out with a much more positive perception about banks at the end!
Sue said: “What a pleasure to be involved in The Amazing Race! The young people really were amazing and showed a genuine interest in our business. They all left with big smiles on their faces which made us feel the same!”
Next up was the pit stop challenge at Baker’s Delight. Store-owner, Yvonne had prepared trays of delicious lemon pie samples to be offered to passers-by. All of the teams did a brilliant job in engaging with customers and encouraging them to “try and buy”. Yvonne and her staff put through multiple sales of the featured product in the time we were there.
“I really enjoyed interacting with the teams. It was nice to see them taking initiative and interacting with the customers. We made around $80 in sales as a direct result of their hard work,” Yvonne said.
The participants said they found this challenging, but by the end, they were feeling a lot more confident and comfortable with selling.
Watching other people eat delicious food for an hour meant the obvious choice for the next destination was the lunch stop. The racers got their clue to end up at Subway for a bite to eat – but not before ticking off some bonus point challenges. They had to find someone to buy a coffee for and ask for a quick selfie with someone in uniform.
The second half of the day began with a good walk to the Playford Library. Jamie had prepared an awesome challenge for our young people to learn how to locate items amongst the thousands of resources available to borrow. Our teams had a great time navigating the aisles in search of books, dvds and games, taking the opportunity to ask for assistance when required. Although it was possibly the toughest task for the day, it was highly enjoyed and prompted a couple of enquiries about joining up.
Next our Amazing Racers needed to get in touch with their musical side at Northern Sound System (NSS). Our host Tommy opened up his in-house recording studio to allow the teams to see and learn how to put together a musical piece using a high-end mixing machine. As with all the experiences on the day, Tommy’s offering brought smiles to everyone’s faces as they got to get hands-on and then listen back to their own work. Some real talent emerged here and everyone would have loved to stay longer.
So with the checkpoints found, challenges completed and points tallied, another paper toss helped to decide the clear winner.
Congratulations to the team “PEW NEWS” aka Josh and Olivia who were the lucky winners!
Of course the real test is – What the young people have to say?
“It was a really fun experience to be able to go out and meet new people and learn about local businesses.” – Olivia
“Very creative and insightful. I would love to do it again!” – Kasey
“Really good day overall. Learnt lots of life skills and made some new friends” – Candace
“It helped me gain confidence in talking to people. It was really fun and I’d do it again” – Alicia
“Met new people which was great and the business people were really friendly. It was challenging and exciting and the people in the race were fantastic!” – Josh
SYC has been offering a shopfront and telephone assistance service for young people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity since 1981, known as Trace-a-Place. By the late 1980’s, it was undeniable that safe and affordable housing for young people was increasingly very difficult to find. It was even harder to hold on to accommodation once found, with many young people experiencing what was coined as the “shelter merry-go-round”.
Our experience and research led us to propose a new, transitional housing model, to sustainably exit young people from homelessness. Our housing model aimed to address a gap in the existing situation. Where young people were struggling to transition from short-term, crisis accommodation into long-term, independent rentals, this model offered a solution. Where young people were struggling to remain in independent housing, due to limited financial literacy, housekeeping and cooking skills, this model offered a solution.
A competition was held in 1989 for the community to submit their plans and ideas for purpose-built young accommodation.
A HYPA Housing property is designed to facilitate supported, community-style living for young people. The important factors in this model are:
SYC staff proposed the model to almost anyone who was willing to hear it. In 1992, construction of the first 7 units was achieved thanks to Co-operative Group Foundation (now Adelaide Bank and Bendigo Bank), the South Australian Office of Housing, Adelaide City Council, and the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Trust for Young Australians.
The original property was opened by then Minister for Housing, Mr Crafter and then Lord Mayor of Adelaide Mr Steve Condous.
In December 2008, SYC CEO Paul Edginton began conversations with the Playford City Council. He aimed to secure a parcel of land and expand the HYPA Housing program. The Playford area was targeted because of the high proportion of young people and very high unemployment rate. These 24 apartments were completed and tenanted by 2012.
Also in 2012 SYC purchased an additional 8 units in Western Adelaide. The location and style of these units lends them well to small families, couples, siblings and those from culturally diverse backgrounds.
Paul said that, “HYPA Housing helps young people to build a rental history and positive living habits before moving into the private rental market.”
Charmaine was one of the first tenants in the Playford properties. She had experienced consistent housing disruption throughout her childhood. For the 10 months before moving into HYPA Housing, she had no fixed address.
“HYPA Housing provided both security and safety plus allowed me to do the things I wanted in my own time. For the first time, I felt like I had freedom,” Charmaine said.
While living in HYPA Housing, Charmaine was able to complete high school. She also completed a Certificate III in Administration and secured casual retail employment.
HYPA Housing has been lucky to have considerable backing from the wider community. They have made contributions through fundraising initiatives and events as well as practical support through volunteering and working-bees. A select few have been especially generous and committed to Adopting a HYPA Housing Apartment for a whole year.
The model experiences continued success with 73 percent of young people consistently moving to a sustainable, independent housing outcome. Countless young people have shared their stories of the personal transformation, increased stability and new opportunities that HYPA Housing has allowed them to have. For these reasons, we continue to pitch the model to anyone and everyone who will let us.
The innovative program runs over a 60 week period. Young participants work with a coach to overcome barriers that prevent them sustaining employment and also develop non-vocational skills.
“At its core, the Sticking Together Project is a coaching service. It’s designed to build high levels of rapport between young people, their coach, and their employer – a formula to increase the likelihood of any young person maintaining employment,” said Head of Development, Andrew Reilly.
“Lack of supports for new, young employees to adapt to the workplace and sustain work, plus insufficient supports for employers to manage them, are primary reasons for poor job retention,’ he explained.
The unique model was co-designed with The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) and Queensland University of Technology (QUT). It has been piloted in Melbourne and Adelaide, allowing 100 young people the opportunity to participate over 2016/2017.
Results of the pilot showed 66 per cent of young people who completed the program came completely off welfare payments. This results in an estimated future welfare saving of $7.3m to the community. Further to this 79 per cent experienced an improvement in wellbeing and 95 per cent strengthened their employability skills.
Due to the success of the pilot, SYC was thrilled to launch the Sticking Together Project Social Impact Bond, in September 2018 in partnership with the New South Wales Government. The investment bond, worth $5 million, is the first social impact bond in Australia to focus on youth employment. This project will begin in April 2019 and run for four years. It will support almost 900 young people aged 18 to 24 across New South Wales.
SYC Director of Corporate Strategy, Michael Clark, said the funding of the Sticking Together Project through social impact investment represented a significant achievement for SYC and the very first time youth unemployment has been addressed in this way.
“We set out right from the beginning to structure and measure the Sticking Together Project in a way that would facilitate and enable funding through social impact investments – and it’s incredibly pleasing to see that aim become a reality” Mr Clark said.
“We have the evidence to show the effectiveness and success of the project and this venture is allowing us to support more young Australians into employment and future independence,” he said.
Molly participated in the Adelaide pilot of the Sticking Together Project and has now been employed for 18 months in a role that she loves.
“After many years of unstable employment, I finally feel like my life is coming together,” Molly said.
“Prior to the Sticking Together Project, I couldn’t envisage a future or see a purpose to my life. Now I can see a career in my future, I am planning to have a holiday and eventually purchase a house!
“The Sticking Together Project changed my life and I would recommend it to any young person having trouble finding work,” Molly said.
There were 85 volunteers who came together from local schools and community groups to fulfill the needs they saw in the community. They wanted more activities, opportunities and support for young people to have their best chance in life.
Max Kau, SYC Director in the 1970’s and 80’s, later wrote about those early days:
“By very subtle means, SYC informs the community that all is not well; young people are in trouble … and something needs to be done about this. By equally subtle means, SYC is telling young people that the community is not all that bad and it does care for them, otherwise SYC would not exist.”
For quite some time, the majority of those working at SYC were volunteers. In 1963, the volunteer sub-committees were responsible for Social Work, activities and films, the running of the Op Shops and finances. Over the following years SYC developed large scale volunteer programs. A strong aim of many of these programs has always been to prepare young people for employment and independence.
SYC has been committed to developing robust volunteering practices throughout. In fact Max Kau essentially wrote the book on volunteers in a youth services agency.
Characterised by their enthusiasm, energy and endless supply of ideas, these women were hardly on the sideline. The group provided encouragement to other volunteers and workers at SYC. They also made it their mission to take care of practical needs around the organisation.
They provided equipment for the social workers and replaced the very popular Roneo machine. (A Roneo machine was a document reproduction tool that used ink and stencils – before photocopiers were invented.) The machine helped SYC to reproduce their own publications and materials, as well as offering printing services to others in the community.
The group remained as a special subset of volunteers until the early 1990’s.
At the age of just 17, Debbie became the 1000th volunteer in the Youth in Action program. She joined the program to get valuable work experience and improve her chances of paid employment. The ACTION program matched volunteers with community organisations in need of support. Debbie worked in an administrative role while others did everything from childcare through to gardening. The name stood for Another Community Task Initiated on Need.
Out of the 1000 volunteers, 465 continued into full-time employment. Another 200 returned to school and the 411 were still volunteering.
Trace-A-Place Volunteers featured in news articles, calling for more help.
Our highly demanded Trace-A-Place service has been made possible since 1981 through the support and dedication of the community. Young volunteers in the early days manned the phones, greeted drop-ins and completed a large portion of the admin work. They recorded every enquiry and helped young people in crisis to find the right support or connect them with a Social Worker. Today still the work at Trace-A-Place is supported by a team of admin volunteers. Other members of the community also support the service by hosting fundraisers and donating goods.
The tagline “Helping Young People Achieve” at this time was only associated with one program – not the whole range of youth services. The volunteer youth mentor service acted as a value-add to all other SYC Youth Agency services. The service provided one-on-one support in a range of areas, including accessing housing, finding employment, getting into sport and recreation, and completing work experience. This support encouraged greater social participation, and built resilience in young people. The goal of connecting to the community has been another strong theme of the volunteer programs SYC has delivered.
Geared2Drive has been specifically developed with the use of volunteers in mind. The program pairs a screened and trained volunteer with a young learner driver. The supervising driver helps learner drivers to complete their necessary 75 hours of driving before they can sit the test for their P’s.
The Youth Leadership Team began in 2014. This focus of this group is to bring youth voice into the way that SYC works. The team is largely comprised of those who have accessed our services in the past. Members throughout the years have also been very active in fundraising, supporting their peers and advocating for the work of SYC.
They were both thrilled about the opportunity.
“I’m excited to see who they are and meet them in person. It’s really special because they chose us and it’s not something that you would do often,” Wendy said, before the event.
En route to the event, Wendy and Dami reflected on the program that brought them here. They both completed Get Into pre-employment training with Hessel Group and are now still working within the organisation 18 months later.
“I didn’t think I would be working with children,” Wendy said.
“[The training] opened my eyes and I truly enjoyed it.”
Dami says she would recommend the Get Into program to other people.
“I feel like it’s a really good foundation to give you a start and an idea of whether you want to pursue it. It’s great for young people or if you are just a bit unsure.”
Accompanying the young people at the event were Rebecca Hughes, trainer for Enhance Training, Hessel Group and Andrew Reilly, our Head of Development at SYC. Rebecca has been involved in the training portion of the Get Into program and Andrew is responsible for the delivery of the program at SYC.
Earlier in the program, Rebecca commented: “It’s amazing to see how different they are at the end of the course compared to how they interacted at the beginning.
“To see how they now have a pathway into what they really want to do and an idea of where they want to take themselves – that is one of the best things to see,” Rebecca said.
Both Dami and Wendy said that the program made them feel well prepared for employment in childcare. They also believe that stable employment has been very important in their personal lives.
“I feel more confident,” Wendy said.
“[Before Get Into] I would never ask questions or I would do what makes the person happy but not what is better for me. I am more independent and I rely on myself. I am more organised and plan my finances and life better. I have to manage it myself now where my family did this for me before.”
Dami agreed, adding: “I feel like I have grown through the program and I have a clearer understanding about what I want to do. My wellbeing has improved by being able to earn money, take care of myself and be independent. It has helped me also keep focused with my current studies too.”
Dami is continuing to study Early Childhood Education and hopes to continue working with children. She is especially passionate about working to support young people’s mental health or caring for those with disability. Wendy also wants to continue her work with children, giving them a voice to better their own future.
The group was invited to the reception of young Australian’s at Admiralty House on Tuesday 16 October. The event was hosted by the Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Cosgrove.