Max Kau

In 1982 SYC Director, Max Kau, was recognised for his outstanding contribution to youth programs and services during his time with the Service to Youth Council (SYC).

This recognition highlighted his outstanding achievements in both developing and delivering youth specific programs at SYC, and also the insight and advice he shared with government and community groups.

Max was SYC’s Director from 1974 to 1984, but before this time he contributed to many areas of the organisation in a voluntary role. In 1972 Max worked under a Myer Foundation grant and developed an volunteer recruitment and training program that helped SYC utilize and integrate volunteers into its service delivery. By the time he was appointed as director in 1974, Max had an expansive understanding of both the organisation and the broader Youth Sector at that time.

Max had a structured and methodical approach to his work and wrote an expansive collection of research papers and education proposals on youth related service delivery. His education background included a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and History from the University of Adelaide and a post-graduate degree in Social Administration. This provided him with a broad knowledge of human behaviour and skills to research, question and evaluate processes and theories. Max grew up in a family that was committed to human welfare, which greatly influenced his personal values and sense of justice.

“I was raised in a family that was committed to supporting the needs of people less fortunate and this permeated my life”, Max said,

“I was very excited when I started work for SYC as it was an opportunity to bring together an area that I was passionate about, but also incorporate my area of study.”

Max had to be innovative in creating funding and resourcing opportunities for SYC, as government funding of human services delivered by the not-for-profit sector, was limited during the 1970’s and 80’s.  Max was active in forming relationships with stakeholders and partnering with community groups, which was a fundamental aspect of SYC’s service delivery during this time. Examples of this included – The Mobile Information Van, donated by Rotary, Freemason’s Gardening Project, Apex Walkathons Fundraisers,  5AA telephone Information Line and much more.

“Every week I would speak to community groups to educate members and advocate for the needs of young people. I would invite them to become volunteers and financial supporters of SYC and these partnerships allowed us to expand our service delivery and support more young people needing our help. We were the voice for young people and they were coming straight to us for support, they weren’t approaching government departments,” Max said.

Providing young people with appropriate services was fundamental in Max’s approach to his work. By utilizing the Streetwork program Max was able to identify the array of issues young people were experiencing and design specific services and programs in response. These programs were documented and continually evaluated to monitor impact and outcomes.

“Research was a very important aspect of all the work we did at SYC. We needed to research existing programs to evaluate and expand services, it was key to implement new and innovative services, it was also fundamental to share with the community to educate them and also to justify funding and interest for SYC’s future,” Max said.

Max expanded the range of SYC’s services to have a greater and more meaningful impact on young people. After leaving SYC, he travelled to Canberra as a Consultant to the Commonwealth Government, which provided him with further opportunities to develop programs at a national level.  In 1986 he was appointed Executive Director of the Children’s Welfare Association of Victoria and subsequently helped to establish the Kids Help Line Telephone Counselling Service in each State. A lot of the programs and structure Max implemented in SYC still remain today and his contribution has been a fundamental one to our 60 year history.

Max Kau Medal