Y NSW launches Alternative School Suspension Program

The Y NSW is excited to announce the launch of an Australian first with the ground-breaking Alternative Suspension Program in Western Sydney and the Central Coast.

The program, set to begin in February next year, aims to reduce the number of repeat suspensions by giving students an opportunity to transform their time away from school into positive learning experiences.

It will be the first time the program has been piloted anywhere in Australia after being successfully delivered for more than 20 years in Canada and Europe.

The Alternative Suspension program has a long history of success overseas. It has been delivered to more than 30 communities across Canada.

YMCA du Quebec run the program in direct partnership with local school districts, who provide the funding. The program has also been delivered to multiple communities in France and the United Kingdom, with 3000 young people referred annually.

Aimed at young people aged 12 to 18 years, the program tackles the underlying causes of educational disengagement and establishes ongoing support pathways for a successful return to school.

“This remarkable program turns things around for disengaged young people by transforming suspension into an opportunity for them to get back on track in a neutral, safe environment,” said Acting Y NSW CEO Brooke Atkins.

“We want to help these young people make a successful return to school and seize these suspensions as missed opportunities for our young people.”

The program will run three days a week and focus on supporting six young people in each session.

Participating schools on the Central Coast and in the Parramatta Local Government Area can refer students to the program for anywhere between three and 20 days. Referrals from outside these areas will be supported to participate in the program or be referred to an alternative program, under a ‘no wrong door’ approach.

The program aims to achieve:

• Ten programs in total across the Central Coast and Parramatta sites.

• 300 referrals to the program

• 200 students through the program

• 50 weeks of school term programming

• 900 hours of classroom support sessions.

Youth workers in Western Sydney and Central Coast will support participants in small group sizes and work with parents and teachers to develop case plans for a smooth transition back into mainstream education or alternative training pathways.

Wrap around support will include personal development workshops, individual assistance and team skills group activities. Youth workers will support students to create an action plan and establish behavioural commitments, while identifying additional support they might require from their school and family.

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