Outcomes for Service providers

The Urbis (2003) review found “the vast majority (88%) of Support Adults felt that overall the program had been effective in achieving its objectives” (pg.65). 
The Urbis (2008) review found that amongst all stakeholders :
“the program was seen ‘as one of a kind’ that has excellent results in addressing a range of issues and empowering young people to make positive changes to their lives” (pg.12).  

“Many commented that they had been skeptical about expecting positive outcomes at first, due to their experiences with other youth programs, but that they were quickly won over once they saw (or saw outcomes from) the program in action. In the end, however, all found that the positive outcomes met or exceeded their expectations.” (pg. 12)  

“[Of the Support Adults surveyed, 86%] said that they would definitely continue their involvement in the program”. (pg.12)

“Among Support Adults and Referral Agents … the most common theme to emerge when discussing the program was their surprise in the level of success the program had in empowering young people to make real changes in their attitudes and behaviours. Several commented that the program did this in a way they had not seen any other programs do so, and worked effectively with young people who were facing the most difficult of issues. There was also praise for the inclusive nature of the program and the ability it has to help young people with such a wide range of issues.” (pg.12) 

Immediate outcomes

As part of the Urbis (2003), “Support Adults reported that over three quarters (78%) of young people changed their attitude or behaviour immediately while they were on a weekend workshop” (pg.34). These changes were observed variously in young peoples’ attitudes, decisions and actions: 

  • Being happier, smiling more
  • Having greater self-confidence, higher self esteem
  • Being calmer, more relaxed, more controlled, less agitated, less anxious
  • Being more mature, more cooperative, better behaved, more participative
  • Being more expressive, more open about experiences, feelings and emotions, more in touch with their feelings
  • Reflecting on personal experiences for the benefit of others, offering good advice
  • Being more comfortable with physical contact 
  • Being more social, communicative, less of a ‘loner’
  • Having less conflict with peers, more positive interaction with peers
  • Having a better relationship with the Support Adult, e.g.: ‘she has gradually built trust with me. Her mother is a social worker and she sees [her mother] as the enemy, so tends to think of counsellors as the same. I think she now sees adults who work in a supportive role as beneficial.’
  • Starting to come to terms with their own problems, e.g.: ‘I'm very concerned about his aggression – the weekend was instrumental in making him focus on this aggression and now he's attempting to funnel that energy into something positive.’
  • Having a clearer perspective on their life/problems, e.g. seeing things from a parents’ point of view, greater appreciation of the positive elements in their life
  • Taking more responsibility for their actions
  • Having greater (or at least some) motivation to change, having a positive focus, setting goals 

Longer Term Outcomes (6 months later)

The Urbis (2003) review also evaluated Support Adults 6 months after participation on the changes observed in their young people. 100% of the Support Adults reported “the weekend workshops were an effective way of working with at-risk young people”. 75% reported “felt the support groups worked effectively with at-risk young people”. In summary, the outcomes 6 months after, for those sampled, were as follows, finding big improvements (for most) and some improvements (for others) in (pg. 52):

  • Self-confidence: 76%
  • Expressing feelings: 70%
  • Setting goals; trusting people; feeling good about selves and life: 60%
  • Attitudes to school, TAFE or work; understanding their issues: 57%
  • Resolving conflict; being in control of their life; resolving their issues: 54%
  • Solving problems: 51%
  • Relationships with friends: 39%
  • Drug and alcohol use: 36%
  • Relationships with family: 33%
  • Controlling other illegal behaviour: 30%
  • Controlling risk taking behaviour: 24%
  • Controlling violent behaviour: 18%  

The diagram below demonstrates the level of impact on these items as observed by Support Adults (pg.54):
Some comments from the Support Adults were (pg.53):

‘He has complex issues and finds it difficult to share feelings the best of times. Since camp he had improved and at times shared more intimately. It still is difficult though.’

‘She has been able to voice how she felt about her issues and has become far more confident.’

‘Camp allowed her to express her mixed up feelings in an appropriate way.’

‘Because young people have some difficulty expressing their problems with words, I think she has now been given the words to express what she's going through.’ 

They also identified the following outcomes (pg.55):

  • having a sense of belonging, community, friends, support etc.: ‘he realises he is not alone’, ‘she knows the other young people have big issues too’
  • receiving personal support 
  • having positive experiences: ‘camps are one of the few positives in her life and VERY important to her’; ‘she enjoys attending the camps and they give her something to look forward to’
  • being more comfortable seeking help for personal issues
  • ‘beginning to separate herself from the dysfunction [in her family] and looking to improve aspects of her own life’
  • greater appreciation of the positive aspects of their lives: ‘she has been challenged to see her family as a blessing (compared to those who had lost family members)’
  • expressing grief: ‘the camp allowed him to express his grief over his mother's unexpected death in a way that he had not done so far, in a supportive, caring environment’, ‘she had a lot of grief and loss issues and learnt how to cry and talk about her issues’
  • motivation to take leadership roles and support other young people: ‘he keeps coming to support group and has a positive impact on the others’
  • ‘general awareness and acknowledgement of feelings and what they signify’
  • having a positive outlook, being (re)focused, having direction (e.g. TAFE, work, the future) 
  • gaining employment 
  • achieving other goals: ‘She has been to detox and lasted the distance’

The Urbis (2003) review asked Support Adults were asked to compare the Youth Insearch program to other programs for at-risk youth. 

“Three common elements made Youth Insearch camps stand out above these other projects – effectiveness, depth and youth involvement” (pg.36):

  1. Effectiveness 
    ‘[The other program] was still a good program, but it wasn’t so effective in long term positive change.’ - School Counsellor 
    ‘I think this is the most effective program I've ever been involved with.’ Youth Refuge Worker
  2. Depth
    ‘[The other program] was very different – this goes in depth and is more empowering.’ - Youth Worker
    ‘Youth Insearch allows for deeper analysis of issues.’ - School Principal
    ‘I work with early school leavers trying to engage them into education, i.e. Year 10 certificate. We bring our kids to these camps when they have big issues!’  - TAFE Teacher
  3. Youth involvement
    ‘[The other program] did not provide a 'safe' enough environment in which to discuss serious issues. It did not provide positive peer support’. - Psychologist
    ‘It wasn't a camp, it was ongoing programs run by professionals – things weren't run by young people.’ - School Counsellor
    ‘These [anger management groups etc.] were more adult-young person rather than young people helping young people.’ - Youth Worker
  • positive feedback from the young people, both at the end of the camp and afterwards
  • increased maturity and changed attitudes displayed by the young people have displayed since the camp
    ‘I have observed the changes in some of the young folk I have met there or taken there and watched them grow into much more mature, happy young hu    mans.’
    ‘Camp has shown her that her previous lifestyle was not the way to go.’
  • leadership shown by young people both with Youth Insearch and elsewhere
  • participation in education and employment with specific goals in mind
  • motivation to seek help: 
    ‘It was a huge motivator to engage positively with help. She realised how     blessed she was for what she had (compared to the other campers).’
    ‘Realised that she needed to make changes so it helped kick start her into tak    ing help seriously.’
  • taking responsibility for their future:
    ‘One of my young people has placed himself in detox for three months.’

How the program change young peoples’ lives

In cases were positive changes occurred, the Urbis (2003) review asked Support Adults to identify how the program achieved this. The responses were as follows:

  • making friends, receiving peer support etc.: 
    ‘The camp helped because he made good friends with several participants and they've assisted him to deal with issues.’
  • positive reinforcement from peers and adults
    ‘He had a lot of positive feedback at camp and seemed happy and relaxed there in ways he generally is not at school.’
    ‘I feel he was given a lot of affirmation which he lacks in his home life. The deterioration in the home situation is tending to have a very negative effect.’
  • creation of an environment that prompts and supports personal reflection 
    'Young people are given an opportunity to review what doesn't work for them in their lives and change this’.
    ‘It provides a supportive environment for young people who need help and advice.’
  • the presence of good role models, positive examples and personal support 
    ‘Coming from a single parent family, I think having male role models has been very good for her.’
    ‘She has been given a lot of personal support.’
    ‘She is an inspiration to everyone, a leader at school, and a thriving, happy, 'together' young woman. Her family have played little part in this: Youth Insearch has been her real family.’
  • encouragement of some young people to take on leadership roles (particularly mentioned with relation to increased confidence)
    ‘She is one of the great success stories I've witnessed. The camps have given her confidence and purpose … she is doing leader's training and was camp coordinator at June camp.’
    'Becoming a young leader is important to her: camps give her an emotional outlet and a high degree of support. She leads our support group now, with considerable success.’ 

The Urbis (2008) review also asked Support Adults why they thought the program was successful. “The main success factor … was seen to be its model of peer leadership, ownership and support. It was widely reported that young people participating in the program responded very positively to the Young Leaders running the camps. The Young Leaders present to young participants as accessible and realistic role models for them to aspire to, and often go on to be active and successful members of the community in other ways. These success stories of the program are readily shared with participants, reportedly to great effect.” (pg.12)

“Another key strength was seen to be the supportive, caring and non-judgmental environment of the [program]. This environment is reported to give young people the confidence to develop friendships with each other, and for some to ultimately open up and ‘tell their story’ in front of others. In doing so young people meet others in similar circumstances as themselves, or indeed more difficult circumstances than themselves. They feel that they are not alone with their issues and can draw support from the new friendships and other support networks that they have developed”.  (pg.12)

Why the support groups are effective

The Urbis (2003) review also asked about the main reasons support groups were effective (pg. 61):

  • having follow-up from the camp 
    ‘The kids thrive and need this. It's their back-up and debrief session/s.’
    maintaining the positive relationships formed through camp:
    ‘Keeps them in touch with what they have learnt at the camps – peer support as well.’
    ‘Regular meetings and contact with other young people and support adults is a focus for many of the young people.’
    ‘She has formed a close tie with a member of the support group and camp and looks to this person for assistance and guidance and help when needed.’
    encouragement of setting and achieve goals – supporting focus and self confidence
  • Camp has focussed her and support group reinforced it. 
    ‘Support group has improved her ability [to control difficult situations in her life] and confidence in herself.’
    ‘He is reliant on the group to keep his positive focus. He sets goals at support group and likes to achieve a positive outcome.’
    ‘They do well and love it, feel supported, set goals, enjoy sharing.’
    having an ‘oasis’ away from difficulties
    ‘The regular contact provides a positive side to their lives.’

How it improved the way they worked with their young people

In the Urbis (2003) Support Adults “reported it changed the way they worked with over half of the young people they supported” (pg.63) as follows: 

  • The main change related to greater trust of the Support Adult and increased disclosure associated with this: 

‘She is trusting me more and so is telling me more.’

‘[Youth Insearch did not change the way I work with her], but the camp was a great part of earning trust and encouraging her to try some of the things to assist change.’

‘[Youth Insearch did not change the way I work with her], but taking her to camp showed her that I was serious about what I was saying and that I really cared about what she was doing.’

‘I am more aware of where she is at and support her in these areas.’

‘I enjoy working with him because he has made positive moves. He trusts the support adults and asks for assistance where needed and takes notice.’

‘She's much more approachable, she feels relaxed and is able to confide in me with sensitive issues.’

  • young people becoming more accepting of help

‘He looks forward to my involvement.’

‘She is accepting of our input and is a very nice young lady.’

  • friendlier relationships

‘She keeps me up to date with progress, mainly regarding her achievements within Youth Insearch, i.e. leadership, Double Island trips.’

‘She now smiles and has brief conversations with me.’

‘[It has] made it easier to get along with her.’

‘More knowledge of his story, and good techniques of dealing with his stuff.’

‘Before Youth Insearch I worked with him and ran out of strategies to address some of his issues – Youth Insearch refreshed some options.’