SYC managers noticed continual trends of young clients offending due to homelessness, lack of life skills and the influence of peer relationships. This prompted SYC to engage UniSA’s School of Psychology to conduct an external evaluation to research and substantiate their findings.

These findings were the basis for designing the Ignition Program, which started delivery in 2008 and is still successfully operating today.

SYC’s Director for Home, Learning and Justice, Liz O’Connell, was instrumental in establishing the Ignition Program. She believes the skills learnt are a strong basis to support young people’s successful transition to become active and valued members of the community.

“The Ignition Program is an intensive group education and skill building program, delivered using a through-care model to support young people in contact with the youth justice system,” Liz explained.

“It works to change the beliefs, attitude and lifestyle factors driving the young people’s offending behaviours, and supports their skills to maintain independent living long-term.

“We work with young people to reengage with their families, education, employment and the community.  Our staff are constant, reliable and trusting support through what is an often chaotic and uncertain time in these young people’s lives and together they are achieving great outcomes for young people.”

The program consists of two 90 minute sessions per week, over six months, with half delivered while the young person is in a training centre.

The following 17 topics are covered in detail:

Communication; Drugs and Alcohol; Mental Wellbeing; Community Living; Employment; Money Matters; Caring for Yourself; Ending Offending; Peer Influence; Conflict Resolution; Relationships; Problem Solving; Cooking and Nutrition; Goal Setting; Risky Behaviours; Culture and Identity; Housing and Maintenance.

Each topic is designed to develop participants’ cognitive skills to support them to function independently within the community. It works to positively impact on peer influences, decision making, goal setting, and the practical aspects of running a household to prepare them for their return to the community. With the right education and supports in place young people have the capacity to make decision to create an independent and successful future, free from the justice system.

SYC is committed to and has undertaken activities in the past to support greater awareness in the general community to accept young people with an offending history and accept them as people who bring value to the community.

In 2012, as part of the Ignition program, SYC organised for young people in detention to train for the City-Bay. Someone outside of detention actually competed in the race for them on the day and wore a singlet with their initials printed on it. The participating young people were supported to implement the training needed to help them reach their goal of running 6km. The activity was successful in bringing attention to the positive work being achieved for young people within and exiting the youth justice system.