Volunteers making a difference at SYC since 1958
22 Oct 2018
In 1958 SYC was founded through the sheer strength and conviction of local volunteers.
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.
It would be impossible to cover the enormous contribution of those who have given their time and resources to SYC over the years. Here’s a spotlight on just a few:
1969 – Women’s Auxiliary
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.
1979 – Youth in ACTION
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.
1981 – Trace-A-Place
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.
2001 – Volunteer and Youth Mentoring Service
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.
2013 – Geared2Drive
Geared2Drive was specifically developed with the use of volunteers in mind. The program paired a screened and trained volunteer with a young learner driver. The supervising driver helped learner drivers to complete their necessary 75 hours of driving before they can sit the test for their P’s.
2014 – Youth Leadership Team
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.