29 June 2022

Woden Community Service stands up for Canberra's youth

| Evelyn Karatzas
Start the conversation
Five people stand arm in arm wearing Youth Engagement Team outfits.

Woden Community Service’s Youth Engagement Team. Photo: WCS.

Ever wondered what goes on in one of Canberra’s leading support spaces, the Woden Youth Centre?

With various programs and services operating under the one roof, including Raw Potential and the Youth Engagement Team, the centre assists young people aged 12-25 to find support within their own community.

It helps face challenges in socialising, mental health, homelessness, education and employment.

Youth Services team leader Joel Artup said the youth centre opened in 1989 and had been operating ever since.

“We want to create a space where young people are connected with youth workers so that if and when support is required, it’s there and available,” Joel said.

“We pride ourselves on being an inclusive and safe environment for all young people.

“The youth centre aims to create a home for young people and a network of people who they can go to for advice with each of our programs having their own goals and aims.”

READ MORE Woden Youth Centre celebrates three decades of helping vulnerable kids

Joel said Youth Services ran a variety of programs.

“We offer what we call ‘drop-in’ which is a safe and social place for young people of all backgrounds,” he said.

“Drop-in is staffed by youth workers at all times and designed to be fun and engaging, running three afternoons a week, on Wednesday and Thursday 3-5 pm and Friday from 3-6 pm.”

“We also have a variety of food and drinks available, as well as pool tables, table tennis, basketball, a driving simulator and chillout spaces.”

About 15 young people on average attend the drop-in sessions.

On Friday nights, the Youth Services team also cooks dinner and holds a sit-down meal at 5 pm.

people playing pool

Woden Community Service youth engagement worker Nicky Link talks with some of the young people at one of the school group program sessions. Photo: WCS.

Joel said Youth Services also co-facilitated the Got Your Back program.

“Got Your Back is a support group for young people who have been impacted by domestic and family violence. It’s owned and operated by Relationships Australia Canberra & Region and run jointly with youth workers,” he said.

“The program is currently running with Youth Services in Woden and Belconnen and is looking to expand into other areas of Canberra.

“The joint venture involves a group of 10 young people. It’s based not only on adult support, but peer support and working with other young people who have experienced similar things.”

READ ALSO Empowering Canberra’s at-risk youth to unlock Raw Potential

He said Youth Services also delivered a casework support service.

“This is where young people are allocated one of our youth workers, and we spend three to six months working one-on-one with them.

“There’s a referral process into the program and it’s completely voluntary and goal-orientated.

“We sit down with you, we look at what you’re wanting support with and wanting to achieve. Then we put together goals and a plan to support you to achieve those things.”

Goals include re-engaging with education, finding employment and accommodation, opening a bank account, applying for a tax file number, and getting a Medicare card.

Four people stand arm in arm wearing Youth Engagement Team outfits.

Eryn Murphy, Nicky Link, Jeremy Leala and Joel Artup form Woden Community Service’s Youth Engagement Team. Photo: WCS.

Youth Services also runs a school holiday program during the two-week breaks, and in the last few weeks of January before school goes back.

“Everything we do is free across every single program,” Joel said. “There’s no fee for any service we provide and we try and do everything we can to engage young people.

“We also collaborate with other youth services in Canberra to co-host events during the school holidays – we might take a group of 30 kids to the pool and there’ll be three services there facilitating transport and funding.”

He said Youth Services wanted to engage young people positively in their community.

“We want to support them to achieve their goals.

“If they’re already supported through another service, school or their parents, that’s great.

“We try to target those young people who aren’t necessarily well supported elsewhere.”

To find out more information, visit Woden Community Service.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.