Young people who have had contact with the justice system and are now trying to get their lives back on track need support at the time they need it – not just between 9am and 5pm.
Jesuit Social Services’ Youth Justice Community Support Service (YJCSS) After Hours program recognises this and provides intensive support and case management beyond standard work hours. It’s an extension of a successful program that has been supporting young people and their families for more than 10 years.
“Our staff provide a combination of practical support and mentoring, to try to reduce the time when young people could be out with negative peers at nights and on weekends,” explains Nicole Salter, the After Hours Coordinator.
The program has doubled in size in recent years and currently supports more than 80 young people and their families.
“The support we provide can range from helping young people find accommodation, supporting them to develop independent living skills and taking them to the gym. Staff also undertake activities to help young people reconnect with family – such as preparing a family meal, attending a sporting game with siblings or a parent, visiting the zoo as a family or going fishing with their fathers.”
The diverse team includes staff from a range of culturally diverse backgrounds.
“Connection, or reconnection, with culture is really important and our workers can engage young people with culture, art, music and food,” says Nicole.
Participant Chris (not his real name), says the program has helped him to explore his interests and discover new hobbies.
“The program is accommodating, allowing you to select the right sort of help you need. I feel supported with my emotional needs, allowing me to trust and open up to my worker about issues or things that may be hard to discuss,” he says.