We were thrilled to secure Victorian Government funding for our Artful Dodgers Studios and Connexions programs recently.

Artful Dodgers Studios participant Casper has been involved with the program for almost five years.

The two programs worked with close to 500 young people across 2017–18.

Artful Dodgers Studios is a flexible and welcoming space where at-risk young people can engage with practitioners, artists and musicians.

“For many young people who may be experiencing mental illness or other complex problems, it provides a ‘soft’ entry point. These are often people who may be unable or unwilling to engage with other clinical services,” says Jesuit Social Services’ CEO Julie Edwards.

“It also provides them with opportunities to link in with other services under the same roof such as Connexions and education and employment pathways at Jesuit Community College.”

Artful Dodgers Studios participant Casper, who first engaged with the program in 2014, describes it as “colourful and welcoming”.

“It’s about the arts, but if there’s anything else going on, you’re open to talk about it and try to work through it. When I’ve been in a rough patch, I’ve been able to just go in and they’re there to talk to,” says Casper.

Connexions was established as Victoria’s first dual diagnosis service for young people dealing with both mental health and substance abuse problems.

It is a highly flexible service that builds trusting relationships with young people, providing counselling, casework and outreach services.

The funding commitment will allow Jesuit Social Services to continue to improve outcomes for hundreds of marginalized young Victorians each year.