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Providing empathy, options and hope

Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS) joined Minister for Youth Justice, Natalie Hutchins and representatives from the Andrews Government, health, recreation and community sector colleagues to launch the Victorian Youth Diversion Statement today and welcomes the announcement of further funding for local level youth engagement programs.

YSAS takes a resilience-based approach to recovery and reintegrating young Victorians back into community life. In partnership with the State and Victoria Police, programs like the Youth Support Service and Embedded Youth Outreach Program connect young people who have come into contact with the criminal justice system with intensive case support and opportunity to get back onto a healthier path.

YSAS recognises adolescence as a rapid time of growth for young people and that building connection with trusted people, developing individual passions and ambition, and meaningfully connecting with community are all important factors to build resilience and long-term rehabilitation.

Today, a young person who has been engaged in the Youth Support Service and Embedded Youth Outreach Program shared their experience of early intervention and the impact that ongoing support from housing services, functional family therapy and employment opportunity has had on their life.

“Before I was involved in YSAS, I didn’t even know what I wanted to do with my life.”

“Now that I’ve been able to change my mindset, it’s been a full one-eighty. If you had of told me that I’d be in a full-time job and living back with my family a few years ago, I would’ve said – you’re joking.”

“The best thing about YSAS is the one-on-one connection with youth workers. You know that they’re always around to help you out with whatever you need.” they said.   

Andrew Bruun, YSAS CEO shared the Youth Justice Minister’s sentiments’ today stating that positive and pro-social activities like sport and recreation, art and music, build connection and trusted relationships with young people; and when paired with the right mix of support and opportunity, steer young people away from the justice system.

“For almost two years, the pandemic has disrupted the development of Victoria’s young people. These disruptions have been had a more profound impact of those who were already experiencing serous disadvantage and isolation.”

“The good news is that with the right blend of opportunity and resources young people and families can be supported to integrate and learn from adverse experiences and become more resilient. Without such opportunities many young people will resort to substances and/or other destructive behaviours in an effort to cope.”

“Now that young Victorians are reconnecting with their peers and local communities as we emerge from the pandemic, it’s the perfect time for further investment in activities that promote social participation” Bruun said.

YSAS is committed to working in partnership with the Andrews Government to create the conditions that promote healthy development for all of Victoria’s young people who are involved, or at risk of becoming involved, with the criminal justice system.

— Ends — 

About YSAS (Youth Support + Advocacy Service)

The Youth Support + Advocacy Service (YSAS) is Australia’s largest, youth-specific community service organisation. Operating since 1998 as Victoria’s flagship Youth Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) service, YSAS now employs over 400 skilled staff across 19 sites in metropolitan and regional Victoria. While YSAS continues to provide effective Youth AOD services, the organisation also has extensive experience in providing young people and families with services that support improved mental health and meaningful community participation.

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