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Our advocacy

What we advocate for and why

YSAS was founded in 1998 in response to an increasing number of young people experiencing serious disadvantage were becoming involved in harmful illicit substance use. Even so, they were not accessing the drug treatment system, because it was not designed to meet their unique needs.

We created a new approach to deal with this problem. And our purpose has remained the same. We remain fighting to intervene early and to ensure there are developmentally suitable services for young people, not adults. Standing with young people to advocate for their rights and needs has been at the heart of the work YSAS since day one. It’s the A in our name.

Early intervention

Currently, only 10% of Victorian Government funding for AOD services is geared towards early intervention for young people.

It is critical to intervene early to prevent years of unnecessary harm. We want to draw attention to this funding shortfall and call for a prioritization of young people in both policy and funding in order to tackle the underlying causes of drug and alcohol problems early, before a lifelong habit occurs.

With more funding, we can get more young people on a constructive and healthy path, to prevent years of unnecessary harm and ultimately a more productive, healthier Victoria for all.

Access to appropriate and effective services

Young people are not mini-adults, nor are they children.

They are at a unique time in their lives and they require services that are developmentally appropriate.

Many young people who use drugs and alcohol don’t acknowledge they have a problem and are not ready to make changes to their drug use. A different approach is needed to reach this group, by getting them invested in activities and relationships that compete with drug using behaviour so they start to see a reason to make changes and see an alternative future for themselves.

There is a severe lack of tailor-made services for young people in Victoria, who do not cope well with long waiting lists and clinical, impersonal and regimented services. We will be call for appropriate services to suit their unique needs, which are flexible, inclusive of all identities and abilities and are culturally appropriate.

Improving social and economic participation

Young people’s mental health and identity can be impacted negatively by stigma and it can lead to discrimination and limited access to vital services. We will tackle this with our advocacy via the media and youth-led communications projects.

We want the public to understand young people for who they are and not define them through the issues and problems they encounter.

Social and economic participation

Young people, regardless of their background or any issues they contend with, deserve access to meaningful social opportunities and jobs.

This is crucial to shaping their understanding of themselves as people who are capable of making a valuable contribution to community life.

The more opportunities we can unlock for a young person, the more motivation that young person will have to work towards a better future.


YSAS provides direct care and early intervention for young people and families in need, but we also support evidence-based approaches for the universal prevention of social and health problems. We use our advocacy to applaud effective prevention.

Harm reduction

At YSAS, we focus on the world as it is rather than as we wish it to be.

We gauge the effectiveness of programs, interventions and public policy by the degree to which a net reduction in harm and a net increase in health and developmental opportunities has been achieved.

We realise that at times well-meaning interventions that feel right can inadvertently create harm and require evaluation and constant scrutiny.

Our advocacy work supports and champions initiatives that are demonstrated to reduce both immediate and developmental harm like overdose prevention centres and dual track Youth Justice system that keeps young people 21 and under out of adult prison.

Our campaigns

Youth crisis accomodation for Frankston and the Peninsula

The Youth2 Alliance advocates for solutions to address the absence of crisis housing and support services for young homeless people in Frankston City and the Mornington Peninsula. YSAS chairs the coalition of 11 local organisations.

Raise the age of
criminal responsibility

The campaign in Victoria is gaining momentum, with a commitment to raise the age to 12 in 2024 and 14 by 2027. We need to push every state and territory government to do the right thing and raise the age to at least 14.

Youth work matters

Youth work is a smart investment, with every $1 invested in youth services returning $2.62 back to the community through improved economic, health and social impact.

Advocacy in our practice

Since 1998 YSAS has had a commitment not just to the provision of services, but also to advocate for the creation of conditions that enable young people experiencing serious disadvantage.

YSAS staff advocate on behalf of the young people we work with everyday.