The pandemic has disrupted children and young people’s school years. Some of the consequences of school closures included mental health strain and isolation, impacting young people’s engagement with schoolwork. 

Our annual Youth Survey report revealed that last year, young people were most concerned about education, mental health and COVID-19.1 Young people in Victoria were more likely to be concerned about COVID-19 than other young people residing in other States and Territories.2 This is not unexpected, given young Victorians endured Australia’s longest lockdown in 2020.

Mission Australia’s Navigate program in Victoria aimed to support disengaged young people return to education and school. Through perseverance and commitment, our teams have helped numerous young people reengage with school throughout the pandemic.

Navigate offers mental health solutions 

Multiple lockdowns and school closures have increased isolation and psychological distress in young people in 2020. Unable to physically interact with teachers or peers, young people faced increased anxiety and social isolation.

Wanting to address mental distress in young people, our team partnered with Berry Street‘s Take 2 Program. The program offers psychological support to the students we work with.

Since the partnership, we have seen young people’s experiences of school significantly improve. Many reported an increased focus on education and willingness to return to school.

Helping young people stay connected 

Online learning as a result of the pandemic has made it difficult for parents and caregivers to homeschool their children. It is even harder for families who do not have the finances to purchase mobile phones or laptops.

Wanting to help young people in their care, our Navigate team in Dandenong applied for a grant from MatchWorks. They were successful and used the funding to purchase mobile phones and credit for families.

The phones will be life-changing for young people who can now stay connected with their peers and school.

30092021 matchwords navigate vic

Maureen Rodgers, our Youth Education Support Worker from Navigate has seen firsthand the difference it has made.

“So many of our families are technology poor and this will help so much,” Maureen says, “Young people are extremely grateful for the new phones.”- Maureen Rodgers, Youth Education Support Worker 

“Many of our young people are only contactable through their parent’s phones. It makes our work more difficult, so the new phones will help a lot.”

Thanks to funding from the Department of Education & Training, the Navigate program has been working with families to support over 540 young people as they reengage with school.

1Psychological distress in young people in Australia: 2012-2020, Mission Australia
2 Young Voices of the Pandemic: Youth Survey COVID Report 2020, Mission Australia

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