Keeping young Canberrans safe and connected

Young Canberrans aged 8 to 15 years who are at risk of homelessness or engagement in the justice system due to family conflict will continue to be supported with therapeutic respite accommodation and supports to help them return home safely where possible.

The upcoming ACT Budget will provide ongoing funding to expand the Safe and Connected Youth Program to include a residential therapeutic respite element based on the Ruby’s Reunification Program that operates in South Australia.

“Safe and Connected Youth has been an incredibly successful partnership with young people and several non-government organisations, facilitated by the Youth Coalition of the ACT and the Rotary Club of Canberra,” said Minister for Families and Community Services Rachel Stephen-Smith.

“Young people who have serious problems at home can be at risk of disengaging from school, becoming homeless and even entering the child protection or youth justice system.

“The Safe and Connected Youth Program works with a child or young person and their family, offering outreach support, therapeutic case management and family mediation, with the aim of reducing family conflict and ensuring a safe home environment.

“The pilot Safe and Connected Youth Program helped most of the young people involved to return home safely and where that wasn’t possible the program was able to steer them away from homelessness and ensure they had a safe place to live.

“I am delighted that Safe and Connected Youth will now be expanded to offer dedicated therapeutic respite accommodation in a refurbished property that has been co-designed with young people who have experienced homelessness,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

Through the 2021-22 ACT Budget, $7 million will be provided over four years for the Safe and Connected Youth: Coordinated Service Response Program including:

  • $4.1 million for the operational costs of therapeutic respite accommodation
  • $2.6 million for early preservation outreach services including mediation and casework
  • $157,000 for post-exit outreach services
  • $185,000 for establishing the program

This builds on $1.2 million provided through the 2020-21 Fast-Track program for the refurbishment of a Housing ACT property to provide therapeutic respite accommodation for young people involved in the program.

Quotes attributable to Justin Barker, Youth Coalition of the ACT Executive Director

“This program is the first of its kind in Australia. The funding not only supports an early intervention service response, but also moderate and crisis interventions.

“It will cover both the outreach and residential needs of children and young people at risk of homelessness. These services prevent youth homelessness and all the risks associated with it.”

Quotes attributable to Dr David Marshall AM, Chair of the Rotary Vulnerable Youth Project

“I commend the ACT Government and Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith on funding the refurbishment of a home in Canberra to provide a safe, short term home for teenagers in need of urgent support.

Rotary is contributing financially to this renovation. This initiative, in association with the ACT Youth Coalition, will be the first of its kind in the ACT where young people will be able to stay whilst surrounded by youth support services. The ultimate aim is to have them return to live with their families.”

/Public Release. View in full here.