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Resilience-based practice at YSAS

YSAS is a community service organisation that is committed to social justice and creating the conditions in which young people, with their families and communities, can overcome and even be strengthened by adversity.

YSAS programs and services are designed specifically to meet the needs of young people who are, or who are at risk of, experiencing substance use related harm, difficulties with mental health and criminal justice system involvement.

We are equipped to assist young people, families and communities experiencing serious problems, but also intervene as early as possible to prevent problems from escalating and becoming entrenched.

YSAS provides practical support and evidence-based clinical care through outreach and care co-ordination, residential programs and a range community-based services from sites across Victoria. We also collaborate with a range of other service providers in the best interests of the young people, families and communities that we serve.

Resilience-based practice at YSAS
  1. YSAS is a community service organisation that is committed to social justice and creating the conditions in which young people, with their families and communities, can overcome and even be strengthened by adversity.

  1. YSAS programs and services are designed specifically to meet the needs of young people who are, or who are at risk of, experiencing substance use related harm, difficulties with mental health and criminal justice system involvement.
  2. We are equipped to assist young people, families and communities experiencing serious problems, but also intervene as early as possible to prevent problems from escalating and becoming entrenched.

  1. YSAS provides practical support and evidence-based clinical care through outreach and care co-ordination, residential programs and a range community-based services from sites across Victoria. We also collaborate with a range of other service providers in the best interests of the young people, families and communities that we serve.
Our commitments to young people and families

Inclusion and equity for people of all backgrounds and identities

We understand that every person is unique. We are proactive in ensuring that young people of all backgrounds and identities are welcomed and have the opportunity to participate equally in the life of our organisation and the communities in which we provide our services. While it is not possible to fully comprehend the complexity of all human experience, we learn so much through including and building relationships of mutual trust and respect with First Nations peoples, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ folk, people of colour, people from various cultural backgrounds and those who have particular religious affiliations and beliefs. We are also committed to gender equity.

Co-creating solutions and outcomes with young people and families

YSAS adopts a service user partnership/co-creation approach. This is characterised by shared power and participation in decision making at all levels, including the individual, organisational and systemic. The ‘lived experience’ and ‘living experience’ of young people and families is diverse and their knowledge and expertise of what matters and works best for them and their peers is valued highly alongside other forms of knowledge and expertise.

Using the best available evidence on ‘what-works’ to inform our practice

We are committed to implementing practice approaches and delivering interventions that work to produce positive outcomes for young people and families. This is achieved by braiding together evidence that is derived from a number of sources including:

  • • the lived and living experience and expertise of young people and families
  • • practitioner knowledge and judgement, and
  • • findings from high quality research.

Learning and evolving

We ensure that our practice is effective in response to the changing social conditions in which young people develop. We strive to create a culture that supports and reinforces the learning and development of our practitioners. This involves creating the conditions where practitioners feel enabled and supported to ask questions, raise concerns, express opinions and challenge each other to both uphold YSAS values, and fulfil our purpose.

Why some young people are at greater risk

At YSAS, our programs and services are geared to respond in culturally meaningful ways to the complex circumstances of each young person and family, taking full account of their strengths as well as the difficulties, they contend with.

There are a range of risk factors that predispose young people to poor mental health outcomes, alcohol and other drug problems and becoming involved with the criminal justice system:


• Exposure to racism, homophobia, transphobia and discrimination,
• Intergenerational poverty and trauma,
• Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), including trauma stemming from abuse, neglect and exposure to violence,
• Refugee and difficult resettlement experiences,
• Learning difficulties and early school disconnection,
• History of family attachment issues and conflict, and
• Highly reactive temperament and other hereditary factors.

If these and other risk factors are not mitigated through the presence of protective factors and addressed in a meaningful way as a young person develops, they will present in the ‘here and now’ as stressors that exacerbate and perpetuate health and behaviour problems. These stressors are known as problem ‘triggers’ and ‘drivers’.

Triggers and drivers become particularly influential in the development of problems and harmful behaviours when young people, families and communities don’t have access to the resources and opportunities they require to support positive adaptation and coping.

What resilience means at YSAS

Resilience is the capacity of young people, families and communities to cope with, overcome and even be strengthened by adversity. Resilience requires timely access to the right mix of resources and opportunities that enable people to meet their needs in ways that matter to them.

YSAS Resilience Based Practice Framework has three interrelated dimensions that are centred on what all young people and families require to:


• Prevent harm,
• Meet their needs,
• Fulfil their aspirations, and
• Deal effectively with life stressors that trigger and drive health and behaviour problems.

Meeting the unmet needs of young people

Our practice focussing on six Domains of Need that are critical to all young people’s development:


Safety Protection from harm and the capacity to respond to crisis.
Stability Security and the capacity to meet basic needs.
Agency Capacity to respond to challenges and capitalise on opportunities.
Connections Helpful relationships with people, culture and places.
Participation Engagement in activity that is socially and economically rewarding.
Identity A coherent sense of self and one’s place within their family and community.

Young people and families require a range of meaningful ‘Resources and Opportunities’ that can be used to meet these needs and achieve their goals. YSAS understands resources and opportunities into four categories:


• Environmental resources and opportunities
• Abilities as a resource
• Beliefs as a resource
• Culture as a resource

YSAS practitioners employ five ‘Key Practices’ within our programs to ensure young people and/or families can access and make the most of the resources and opportunities they require to meet their needs and achieve their goals, acting to:


Protect Counter negative and harmful influences and protect existing resources and opportunities from being compromised.
Connect Link young people to necessary resources in their environment and within themselves.
Develop Teach young people and family’s skills and develop their capacity to achieve their goals and make the most of other resources and opportunities.
Advocate Ensure that resources and opportunities are available to young people, families and communities in culturally meaningful ways that work for them.

How we know that our work is effective

We monitor the extent to which we are connecting with populations of young people and families who experience serious disadvantage.

The needs and characteristics of each young person and family that use YSAS services are identified and recorded confidentially by our practitioners. The core principles to measure how effective YSAS services and programs are:


  1. • We listen to what young people and families tell us about their experience of our services,
    • We measure the capacity of each young person and family to meet their needs and be well.
    • We monitor whether young people achieve their goals for involvement with YSAS, and
    • We monitor whether young people achieve their goals for involvement with YSAS, and