2019-20 Year in Review

SYC Year in Review



Our Mission is to empower the people we work with to create a life without disadvantage, to build sustainable independence and to experience personal wellbeing in all areas of their life.

This year we worked with more than 56,000 people in the areas of Home, Learning, Working, Justice, and Health and Disability.




SYC is an effective provider of services that foster wellbeing, independence and opportunity for all Australians.

This year SYC has truly proven itself as a mature and sustainable organisation, providing stability and support to Australians facing challenges that none of us have seen before. It is a considerable credit to the employees and Board of SYC, for their commitment to achieving the organisation’s Vision no matter the climate.
Hon Kevin Scarce AC CSC RAN (Rtd),
SYC Patron

Who we support


people supported by SYC



experience moderate-high barriers to achieving positive outcomes


aged under 25


aged over 50


have a disability


experiencing homelessness




from another cultural or linguistic background

We work with tens of thousands of people every year, supporting them to experience greater independence and prosperity. The people we support come from a range of backgrounds, ages and life experiences.

The demographics of these people continue to change, with our client base getting older, more culturally diverse and more likely to be female.

This year, the number of people who were recorded as facing moderate to high barriers to achieving an outcome, was lower than in previous years. This is due to an influx of clients accessing our services for the first time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many may have been able to sustain their own stable employment or housing for many years prior to being impacted by social restrictions and economic downturn.

We’re proud to have shown our ability to be ready and responsive when things change in the world around us.





Our footprint








programs and services


years of operations








76% of staff surveyed say they would rather be working for SYC than any other organisation.

[462 respondents]

Lifetime Supporter Awards

SYC was an incorporated association from 1958 to 2014. During this time, Life Membership recognised the long and distinguished service of individuals to the organisation. With the change to SYC Limited in 2014, Life Members at that time were recognised with the SYC Lifetime Supporter Award.


This award continues to acknowledge those people who make significant contributions to SYC.

Andrew Gardiner


Andrew has seen our employment services through considerable growth and change since he began as an Area Manager in 2001. His current role as State Operations Manager across South Australia and New South Wales entails leading over 200 staff in 5 different contracts.

Andrew receives the Lifetime Supporter Award in recognition of his continued dedication to excellence in SYC’s endeavours in finding people work. Andrew has played almost every role possible throughout the evolution of employment services and has always shown a loyal dedication to SYC’s role in Commonwealth Employment Services.

Liz O’Connell


Liz began at SYC in 2005 as a Receptionist at Job Prospects Port Adelaide. She has held a number of roles across youth justice, alternative learning, program management and youth advocacy. Now an Executive Director with responsibility for Housing, Justice and Disability services, Liz has a strong focus on quality of practice.

When you ask Liz why she joined SYC you will hear a story of someone completely focussed on finding the right place to deliver the kind of outcomes Liz can affect. Liz has dedicated her career to the development of SYC’s practice to be the leader that it is. Liz demonstrates a quietly spoken resolve but relentless belief in her work.

Kirsten Sandstrom


With a background in law, Kirsten has brought considerable expertise and tenacity to her work at SYC. Starting in 2004 as a Senior Research Officer, Kirsten has also been a leader across youth justice, homelessness and learning services, before taking her current role as Head of Home and Housing.

Kirsten gives every ounce of her professional energy to making a better world for young people. A fierce advocate for improved service, improved funding and better understanding of the issues that affect young people, Kirsten has remained loyal to SYC’s Mission despite the frustration that inevitably accompanies the work advocating for young Australians.

Scott Whitmore


Scott started with SYC in 2000 as General Manager, Job Prospects. With a knack for relationships and a passion for the community, Scott has worked in business development, fundraising and partnership roles in all parts of the organisation. Now as Business Development Manager for South Australia, Scott finds and creates opportunities to achieve great outcomes for jobseekers and employers alike.

Scott’s larger than life approach inspires people to think positively about SYC and the work it does. Scott exudes enthusiasm, kindness, loyalty and dedication as well as a broader sense of service to the community. Scott has worked at SYC through the highs and lows of its journey and is part of the fabric of SYC.

“Seeing our reputation and standing in the marketplace grow from strength to strength is something I’m proud of. It has allowed us to move into other states and expand services. I can truly say that SYC is a great place to work”

[Scott Whitmore]







people supported to find and keep a safe and stable home



requests received for tenancy advice and advocacy



Everyone deserves the right to a safe, affordable place to call home. A home provides more than a shelter; it’s a place that offers security, freedom, privacy and a base to grow from. Adequate housing is a key factor in an individual’s health and wellbeing, as well as the prosperity and safety of the community at large.

young people lived in our housing properties


times a young person requested material support, such as food or clothing

This year we supported more than 5,000 people to find or keep their home. This support comes in the form of advice and advocacy for tenants, youth homelessness services, specialised residential care, and transitional housing for young people.


During the year, our youth homelessness services received almost 1,200 requests for accommodation or housing. Unfortunately, the homelessness system could only meet these young people’s housing needs 46% of the time.

Many of the tenants at HYPA Housing were experiencing homelessness before entering the program. Upon exit 87% had been transitioned to secure, appropriate housing.

Case Study


Karlie received a letter to say her lease wasn’t going to be renewed and began counting the days until Christmas. As a young woman struggling between pay checks, she has relied on temporary supported housing to avoid rough sleeping.

Karlie hasn’t had the easiest life. She has experienced mental health crises, domestic violence and harmful drug use.  With such a complex array of barriers in her way, finding and keeping a safe home has been almost impossible. She has had 5 different addresses in the past few years but has struggled with meeting the requirements set by housing providers.

However, we know a stable place to live can make all the difference to a young person’s recovery and prosperity.



“Once I felt stable with housing, I was able to give my energy to study, employment and my future.”

Nicole, 20







people supported to gain knowledge, skills and experience



people supported to commence accredited training



We enable people to acquire knowledge and skills that can be retained and applied.

Quality education, training and experience helps people get into suitable and rewarding employment. Education and skills are also an important marker of the health and prosperity of a community in both the present and the future.

hours of learner support provided to people in Accredited Training


young people enrolled our high-school alternative education programs

This year we had 1,339 people in our learning programs. As a Registered Training Organisation, we offer accredited training courses like construction, business and digital literacy. This training is designed to align to industry standards and needs, giving students the skills and qualifications to be successful in employment.


Students are supported by our learner support team who help each person stay on track with their study and overcome any barriers along the way.

We have also been an alternative education provider for many years. Our group programs offer supportive learning environments for young people who require a different approach to mainstream school. A marker of success in this area is improving the way that young people think and feel about themselves as learners. This year, 60% of young people receiving case management reported an improved attitude towards learning.

Case Study


Stacey says that HYPA has helped her enjoy her life again.

As a 15-year-old attending high school in Adelaide’s north west, Stacey was struggling to cope. She found herself experiencing significant anxiety with her schooling. A fear of failure led to further disconnection from school, and her social circle. Her overall wellbeing suffered and she felt low in self-esteem.

In 2018, Stacey began receiving support from the HYPA Alternative Learning team. She works with a case manager, and attends the group learning environment at Studio West. The safe environment has helped Stacey gain more confidence in herself and her capabilities. Over the past two years here, she has been able to make valuable connections to staff and peers.



“Since starting the course I have become motivated to get a job. The step-by-step process has helped me feel more confident. Thank you so much for your weekly phone and zoom meetings. They are supportive. Now I know I’m not doing this alone.”

Cheryl, 64







people supported to find and keep work



jobs commenced

Employment is the single most effective way to avoid poverty and experience financial security. Meaningful work is also important to a person’s wellbeing and sense of self. At a broader level, workforce participation benefits a whole community, in improved revenue and social outcomes.



We are one of the largest employment services providers, working with more than 49,000 people across Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. This year, those supported in our programs amassed almost 3 million hours of paid work between them.

young people completed 60 weeks of coaching in the Sticking Together Project


jobs commenced in our social enterprise

In the past year we helped place almost 11,000 people into jobs, which equates to 30 jobs started every single day. More than 4,800 jobs lasted for at least 6 months, allowing the person to no longer need welfare support. We also work closely with employers, helping them to find and keep good employees.

Young people often list self-esteem and confidence as a barrier to getting into the workforce successfully. As a result of our work, 76% of young people in case management now report a positive attitude towards employment.

Our teams understand that employment isn’t always easy. We don’t lose hope and instead, look for creative solutions for an individual. We also offer post-placement support, to help people overcome challenges and stay in their jobs.

Our Social Enterprise, operating through a timber mill based in Mount Gambier, employed 28 people in the reporting period. This program offers training, experience and full employment as a launching pad for workers to gain a career in the industry and beyond. Many people in this program had been receiving unemployment benefits for over 12 months. These workers achieved 9,762 hours of paid employment, with almost half of those who left moving on to future employment.

We received funding from Macquarie Foundation which enabled us test, develop and refine our My Next Step pre-employment program for young people. We engaged 170 at-risk young people in 14 four-week programs to develop a personalised Career Pathway Plan. At completion of the programs, 75% of participants were engaged in either employment or further training required to meet their career goals.

My Next Step is now a foundation model for SYC youth pre-employment programs. It has been utilised as a basis for a tailored program for multicultural young people in South Australia, with additional funding support from Scanlon Foundation allowing the program to be delivered over 2020/2021.

Case Study


When Robbie was at high school, he developed an interest in IT. He’s a young man who enjoys a good laugh, but struggled to get involved with hobbies and social activities. He lives with Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair.

Robbie completed his last year of school in 2019 and began to think about a career. He met with an Employment Consultant from Job Prospects to start making a plan. His consultant Robyn soon realised that Robbie could really benefit from some extra encouragement and support. She organised for him to connect with another client who also has Cerebral Palsy and a degree in IT.

Robyn says having a peer has “encouraged Robbie to get out and about and do things independently which changed his outlook.” He began studying some IT topics at TAFE before COVID-19 interrupted his progress.



“It’s not easy to be retrenched at my age (just turned 64 last week) and find yourself struggling to obtain a new position. I have to say that l wouldn’t have been able to manage as well as l am doing without your caring enthusiasm, your dedication and most of all, your sheer professionalism.”

David, 64







people supported to build pro-social connections and make positive contributions to their community



people completed post-release support program



We support people to build pro-social connections and make positive contributions to their community. We work with over 4,300 people who have had contact with the criminal justice system.



Our Navigator program provides 12 weeks of post-release support. This helps people at a critical time in their lives, to ensure they are well established in housing and study or work. We know that finding a home, employment and education after release will make all the difference in a person’s future. The vast majority of people in this program were able to avoid returning to custody while receiving our support.





We also work with many young people who have been, or are at risk of, being involved with the justice system. With the right practical and social supports, we aim to help people avoid getting in trouble all together. 55% of young people receiving justice-specific support, say they have reduced their risk-taking behaviour

Supporting this group of people means our whole community benefits from reduced costs and a better place to live.

Case Study


When Trevor was released from prison, he wasn’t met by a friend or family member. Instead, a Navigator Case Worker was there to help him on his way.

The Navigator service supports people throughout their release from prison, as they transition back to daily life. During the 12 weeks of post-release support, a case worker provides one-to-one assistance with things like housing, employment, training and upholding release conditions. Having help to navigate this crucial time is designed to increase a person’s stability and prosperity, and reduce the likelihood of offending in the future.



“[SYC] have helped me to mature into the man I am now. They have helped me see sides to myself as a homeowner and as a member of the community that I had trouble recognising in myself.”

Kieran, 21





Health and Disability


people supported directly by our Health and Disability programs and services



hours of support provided to clients (NDIS)


people supported to transition to the NDIS

We empower people with disability or mental ill-health to live healthy, fulfilling lives.



SYC works with around 10,000 people with disability in a year. We also see five and a half thousand people who report a mental illness. We have recently become an NDIS provider so that we can better support our community.

We work with people to help build their connection to the community and their capacity to reach their goals. This year we have been supporting people to transition to the NDIS and make the most of their plans.

We aim to see people improve their resilience so that they can face and overcome challenges well in the future. We help with things like employment, social connections and independent living skills. The ability to have good social connections helps people build their self-esteem and overall health.

Of young people in case management, 48% of those surveyed rated their mental health as good or very good. Around 70% are now scored as having a high level of resilience.

Case Study


Cameron’s doing things he never thought he would.

Cameron likes pretty much any music. Except country music. He likes video games and playing basketball. He even played for a state team when he was in high school. He also enjoys going for a drive along the beach with his support worker Zahni and chatting about life.

Cameron works with support workers at SYC through our NDIS service. They meet regularly to establish and work on goals in all areas of life. His current goals include finding employment in construction, getting fit and healthy and being able to visit his 2-year-old son who lives in NSW.



“I really appreciate all the help you provide. You always take the time to listen, especially when my illness impairs my ability to talk properly, and you take the time to explain things clearly when I’m having difficulty processing anything.”

Jake, 54


SYC is committed to maintaining, monitoring and improving our systems to meet a high standard of quality in our work.
SYC continues to hold certification to the International Standard – ISO9001:2015 Quality Management Systems which provides us with a foundation framework and demonstrates our commitment to planning, community engagement, business management, continual improvement and excellent customer service.

Other national accreditations maintained during the 2019-20 reporting period include Certification to the National Standards for Disability Services, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment Quality Assurance Framework and the Certificate level of the Australian Service Excellence Standards.

In the first half of 2020, SYC commenced the process to become certified to the International Standard – ISO 27001:2013 Information Security Management Systems in order to improve the control, compliance and security of our technology systems. SYC expects to complete this certification process in the latter half of 2020.



Volunteers, Supporters and Partners


increase in regular workplace giving donors




placement students


total volunteer hours

Every year, generous members of our community offer their time, money, influence, belongings and expertise to amplify the reach and impact of our work.

We wish to thank our corporate, community and individual supporters who have worked with us this year. We appreciate the in-kind and cash donations, the hours of corporate volunteering time and the efforts of those who hosted fundraising events and advocated on our behalf.

Some highlights of this financial year include corporate volunteers completing an entire makeover of the bedrooms of young people living in HYPA Homes, which was incredibly well received and appreciated by the young people. We also saw Workplace Giving donations more than double from the previous year due to a large increase in the number of regular donors supporting the program. Our Holiday and Winter Appeals were both successful, with the new online auction and donation platform providing an additional fundraising source for supporters.

Our placement student program continues to grow, offering valuable experience as part of university disciplines such as psychology and social work. This year we hosted 9 placement students who contributed an impressive 3071 hours to the organisation. Six of these students were then offered further employment at SYC in our homelessness, disability and learning programs.

Keep in touch

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Some names in this report have been changed.