All too often, we hear about children and young people slipping between the cracks and missing out on the childhood and bright future they deserve because they did not have access to the right supports at the crucial moment.

At Mission Australia our focus is to improve outcomes for children and young people with complex needs, particularly young people at risk of, or experiencing homelessness.

I spoke this morning at a conference on Protecting Australia’s Children. I spoke about the need to act early and proactively identify at risk young people and ensure they have the right supports available to them the moment they reach out for help.

There are a myriad of programs and services available. One I spoke about today was our social enterprise restaurant in Melbourne’s Fitzroy which supports young people to overcome complex barriers. The program operates a fine dining restaurant to provide a comprehensive training program for young people who have experienced barriers to employment. Charcoal Lane enables Aboriginal and other young people to gain accredited hospitality qualifications and professional experience as part of a supportive development program.

Stephen Thorpe, a past student in the program, is testimony that services like Charcoal Lane do make a difference to young people’s lives. Having witnessed and experienced domestic violence as a young boy, moving house regularly and being placed in foster care and out of home care, Stephen turned to ice for more than two years to numb his emotional pain. But a life threatening heart attack led Stephen to take the reins of his healing journey and sign up to Charcoal Lane.

The service provided Stephen with a safe place for transformation as well as an opportunity to learn to cook native foods, build valuable employment skills and connect with his Aboriginal heritage. He is now on the roster as a chef and is a fantastic mentor for new young students attending the program. You can hear Stephen’s story in his own words here.

Mission Australia continues to call for a strong, early commitment from governments to provide flexible, long-term adequate funding to work in a way that keeps children and young people at the centre. Fragmented and often short-term investment by governments is placing a strain on youth-focused services across the sector.

With funding certainty and adequacy we can continue to achieve great things for and with our young people, who are after all, the future of Australia.

Catherine Yeomans

 

Catherine Yeomans
CEO Mission Australia
@cathyeomans

 

"I get scared going to bed now"

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Founding Purpose - 'Inspired by Jesus Christ, Mission Australia exists to meet human need and to spread the knowledge of the love of God'