SYC’s history of creating safe places for young people to access support services, necessities and make healthy social connections.
1962 – Drop-in-Club

For four years SYC, mostly through volunteers, had been assisting young people in finding employment, exiting the youth justice system and making healthy connections with the community around them. They worked tirelessly providing clothing, accommodation, meals, counselling and preventative education.

These workers opened the first ‘Drop-in-Club’ which was described as a place that ‘provided soil for young people to put their roots in’. During 1962 SYC also moved to Franklin street, so that their support and the space were more accessible via public transport.

Throughout the 60’s

Throughout 1965-70, SYC saw a dramatic increase in clients of up to 30% per year. The main challenges they faced were family relationship problems, employment difficulties, accommodation or housing and financial difficulties. Each year the goals of the organisation included having amenities for young people and drop-in services that were open regularly.

1971 – The Shack

1971 saw the opening of a new outreach service, in the form of a Coffee Shop/drop in centre. A group of volunteers raised the $500 in capital required to start the shop. It was named ‘The Shack’ and was located on Melbourne Street, North Adelaide. The Shack was organised by the SYC Volunteers In Service to Australia group and was open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Young people could buy a toasted sandwich for 12c or pay 10c for a cup of coffee.

1972 – Relocating the Shack

In its infancy, the Shack began to attract a reputation for being quite loud, especially as young people moved between the premises and local bars. The young volunteers reacted promptly to this concern and moved the Shack to a slightly quieter area on Brougham Place.

“The mere fact that a group of young people have done this – and the fact that these kids have insisted that they have done it – to me, is indicative of the worthwhileness of the project. The young people seek and they need involvement in the creation and planning of their own programmes. I think this is an excellent example of this need and this fulfilment.”

President’s Report 1972

Young people reportedly liked the Shack because it was a place to meet where it was not necessary to spend money or drink alcohol to have a good time.

Throughout the 70’s

SYC continued to make safe and engaging spaces for young people in a variety of ways. Some examples of this are the Ridgetop Festival and the Mobile Information Van.

1981 – Trace-A-Place

In the early 80’s, SYC’s opened Trace-A-Place as a response to youth homelessness. The services there provided young people with immediate assistance including food, clothing, counselling, and accommodation. It also gave them longer-term support to access stable accommodation, find employment, and ultimately move onto independent living.

Belinda, who was experiencing homelessness before visiting Trace-A-Place, feels the service is incredibly important.

“It gave us shelter, food, someone to talk to and a safe space to take a nap during the day,” she said.

1988 – The Underground

During this year, a new service known as ‘The Underground’ became available. The Underground was literally underground at SYC, in the basement area. It was a place where kids can escape from the streets and meet up with others. No drugs or alcohol was allowed on the premises. Instead, young people has access to shelter, basic food items, crisis or long-term counselling and some basic recreation activities.

2010 – Youth Street Library

For many years, Trace-A-Place has continued to be the hub for young people experiencing crisis to access the support they need. This space was expanded in 2010 with the opening of the Youth Street Library. The theme of a library was chosen to introduce libraries to young people as a safe, public place to go, to access information, meet others and work towards education and employment.

Over the past 8 years the space has seen countless thousands of young visitors. It has also been host to a number of programs, youth workers and counsellors, arts events, pizza lunches, cultural ceremonies, impromptu music and Youth Leadership Team meetings, just to name a few.

2013 – Our New Home, Designed by Young People

Following from the sentiment expressed in the early days of the Shack, SYC continues to believe that it is vital for young people to play a driving role in creating their own spaces. When the Adelaide office relocated to 135-139 Currie Street, young people had the first opportunity to make the space their own with a large-scale art project.

See Our New Home for the full story.