Youth workers across the ACT are committed to working to build young people up to see their potential and enable them to have a voice in our community.
The Youth Coalition of the ACT’s 16th annual Yogie Awards recognised and celebrated outstanding practice in the youth sector. Awards were presented in eight categories that recognise the work of groups and individuals. The 2019 winners, announced on 25 October, included Conflict Resolution Services and Woden Community Service, both winning multiple awards.
The ACT has the second-highest rate of homelessness in the country, of which homeless youth comprises a quarter. Early intervention has been proven as the best strategy in preventing homelessness for young people. Recognising this, Conflict Resolution Services (CRS) implemented its Family Support Program, a preventative program that uniquely puts focus on the whole family unit, rather than one individual young person. The program won the Excellence in Implementation of Evidence-Informed Practice award.
Conflict Resolution Services chief executive officer, Melissa Haley says, “Conflict in the family home is the number one factor leading to youth homelessness. The Family Support Program uses mediation principles to help families stay safe, connected and strong”.
Through the program’s facilitated family mediation, young people are able to comfortably open up about their home life. Haley says, “We have had really good results. We educate families on how to resolve conflict through organised mediation sessions. This leads to improved participant health and well being, allowing family members to reconnect and stay engaged”.
The program has improved school attendance while reducing workplace absenteeism for parents. Participants also demonstrated improved self-esteem, reduction in anti-social behaviours, drug and alcohol use and criminal activity. Many young participants choose to stay at home reducing the need for young people to seek homelessness services in the ACT.
The Family Support Program is delivered across the ACT through CRS with a related program piloted through Woden Community Service, Northside Community Service and Marymead.
“Working collaboratively has made a positive impact on youth homelessness. We are all aiming to rebuild relationships and reduce the risk of generational cycles of disadvantage,” Haley said.
Conflict Resolution Services practitioner Janine Brissett received the Outstanding Contribution to Young People award. Janine has been involved in the industry for over five years.
Previously a teacher, Janine has a lifetime of knowledge to bring to her important role mediating in the community and is a pinnacle member of CRS’s Family Support Program.
“Janine thrives on improving the lives of young people,” Haley says. “She has a deep understanding of family dynamics, Janine speaks at their level and works with young people to reflect on their situation and then works with the families to bring them back together.”
Woden Community Services won the Innovation in Service Delivery award for their Girls Empowered Together program, a 10-week early intervention program which aims to help young women build positive self-esteem, foster resilience and increase the capacity for vulnerable young women to be safe and independent. The program for girls 13- 15 years of age was designed to be a form of early intervention and an attempt to prevent them from becoming disengaged. The program focuses on educating the girls on issues and topics they face daily, both in and out of the school environment, and how they can manage these issues in a way they feel supported and hopefully encouraged to stay in school.
Woden Community Service Youth Worker Cindylee Young received the Outstanding Youth Worker award. Cindylee has a passion for youth mental health and developed two successful Mental Health Week events, and is behind the creation and delivery of the Girls Empowered Together program for Woden Community Service.
Woden Community Service Chief Executive Officer Jenny Kitchin says, “Cindylee demonstrates time and again her passion and commitment to young people through the many school groups she has facilitated. She teaches the importance of self-care and respect to countless young women while building incredible rapport with both teachers, youth workers and department heads throughout the schools. She is a highly sought after group facilitator. The GET Program, in particular, has received extremely positive feedback from the young women who attend the program and their parents.”
See the full list of the Youth Coalition of the ACT Yogie award winners