Our Leaders

The Youth Insearch program is delivered by extensively trained Youth & Adult Leaders who are held in very high regard. The leader’s graduation ceremony is conducted by the Governor of NSW at Government House each year. There is an alumni of hundreds of Youth Insearch Leaders from 30 years of operation of the program.

Youth Leaders

The Youth Leaders are past participants in the program and are positive and real examples to the young participants of what is possible despite a negative background. They play a key role in the delivery of the program. They are responsible for the administration of the weekend workshops and support groups and facilitate various sessions. They also sit on the Program Council which oversees the design and administration of the program. They have the final say on any changes to the program and on the selection and assessment of Youth Insearch Leaders. To be a Youth Leader a young person must be between 14 and 25 years of age.

Adult Leaders

The Adult Leaders are normally drawn from the Support Adults that attend the program with the young people. These are adults from services who work with the young people in a professional capacity. They can also be general members of the community with a demonstrated commitment to the program. The Adult Leaders perform an oversight role on the weekend and facilitate the more in depth sessions. They recognise the need to be supportive without being intrusive. To be an Adult Leader a person must be over 25 years of age.

Leader Testimonials

Chantelle -  QLD

My first experience with Youth Insearch was one quite like nothing I had ever experience before in my life. The first camp I went on I was 14 years old. I had come from a world where you didn’t really talk about your feelings or experiences; you just soldiered on thinking you were all alone in this big scary world. I came from a family where drugs and alcohol was a part of everyday life and if there wasn’t a visit from the police then it wasn’t a normal day. I saw my everyday life as normal, I had not a single doubt that violence, abuse and neglect wasn’t what every family endured. But then I went on a Youth Insearch camp and it changed everything. From the second I got off the bus to happy smiling faces I knew I was in for one hell of a weekend. To start with I was one of them typical participants; I sat there with my head down and my hoodie half over my face and ignored the leaders as they asked me why I was such an angry and afraid young girl. But it seemed the more camps I went on the more I benefited from them. The more I realised that I wasn’t alone and that this world isn’t so big or scary after all. It wasn’t until my fifth camp that I was truly inspired for change. I met a leader by the name of Sharon, during a hassle session she gave me the opportunity to share my story and for the first time in my life there was someone who was willing to listen to me. She convinced me that everything would be okay and that Youth Insearch was a house of trust. She believed in me and told me that I have what it takes to change and to be a better person. That camp broke me down and finally I had hit rock bottom, which was exactly what I needed to rebuild myself. So if it wasn’t for her having faith in me and believing in me then god knows where I would be right now. Since then I have graduated from year 12, gained many different certifications in a variety of areas. I work over 42 hours a week to help support my family to ensure that they don’t go without like they use to. I have overcome my addictions and have been over 2 year’s drug free and close to 4 months alcohol free. So for that I will be extremely grateful towards Youth Insearch they saved my life more than once and they believed in me when no one else did.

 

David - Vic

Hi my name is David Davey, when I first said coming to Youth Insearch I didn’t know my father and my grandfather died when I was only 4 years old. I got involved in Youth Insearch through my local High School and I wasn't really sure what to think about it. When I first started going to the camp I was very shy and I would do anything just to fit in with the crowd. I had no goals set for my future and I got bullied a lot as a young high school student. When I started to speak up at camps, I saw that "The more you put into the camps, the more you got out of it". After my third camp I applied for Leaders Training in 2011 and completed that year. That was one of my goals that I set to achieve in that year and I did achieve that. This was the first goal I had achieve in my life and it was an amazing feeling.  Now I am a fully accredited leader and I’m proud to say it, be it and live it every day. I am on the National and State Program Council for Youth Insearch and have just finished being on the Training team at Leaders Training for the second time in 3 years. I am also at University full time studying Graphic Design, I am helping run the family business and have achieved every single goal I have set since becoming a leader. 

 

Jasmin - QLD

I went to my first program in 2011 and ever since them my life has drastically changed. I went from a depressed, self-harming, suicidal young girl who was dealing with a lot of issues to a more confident woman who believes in herself. I suffered quite a lot as a young child. My parents split up at a very young age and I lived with my father. For a big part of my life I was the victim of physical assault and at the same time my family was constantly fighting all around me. Throughout school I was bullied daily and soon I started believing what people said. Youth Insearch saved my life. The program taught me that I wasn’t alone and that love actually existed. Youth Insearch became my family and I couldn’t imagine my life without it. I’m almost finished my Year 12 studies, applying to Universities and making plans for my future  and I honestly don’t think I would have gotten this far if my school Chaplain didn’t refer me to this program back in 2011. Now, as a Youth Insearch leader I have the privilege to help others who are in the same position I used to be and help them find the light within the darkness and make steps towards improving their future.

 

Jennifer - VIC

Youth Insearch helped me get my life back on track when it had fallen completely off the rails. Before I started my Youth Insearch journey, I had no self-esteem, trust, or confidence, as a result of this I started to isolate myself from everyone around me. My school grades and friendships started to falter and fail, and my health started to deteriorate as I was using negative coping mechanisms. Immediately onwards from my first weekend workshop with Youth Insearch changes started happening in my life. I was given the tools I needed to pull my life back together; I found new coping mechanisms, I had an improved self-esteem, I learnt to trust again, and I was significantly more confident in myself and my activities. I ended up Duxing year 11, and finishing year 12 with the marks to get into a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at university, through which I am in the top 15% of my cohort. Externally to academics, I have also been to Cambodia on a cultural relief volunteer program, I have sailed on-board the Young Endeavour, and I was nominated for and completed the RYLA program. Additionally, I am volunteering for a youth action group through Melbourne City Mission, and I have completed my leadership training with Youth Insearch. Youth Insearch has helped me grow and develop positively into the person I am today.

 

Kaysy - NSW

Growing up, life was difficult. My parents were separated, my dad wasn’t in the picture and my mum was an alcoholic. She was often absent from home which put the responsibility of raising my brother to me. He had a terminal illness which required ongoing medical care. At 13, I was kicked out of my mother’s home and I moved in with my older sister and her son. During the years I lived with my sister, I was used as a permanent babysitter, with my sister often sleeping late and going out at night. I was introduced to Youth Insearch at 15.

Youth insearch helped me to accept my mother’s addiction, cope with my sister and her actions and learn to put myself first. Leadership training was the best opportunity I was able to take in my childhood because it gave me the skills to be more assertive, confident and accepting of others. The skills I have learnt from Youth Insearch have helped me to deal with family loss and has guided and supported me through other troubles I have faced and will face in the future. I am now graduating from university with a Bachelor in Education. Youth Insearch is the reason I am a passionate and confident young person. The program empowered me to be the change I want to see in the world.

 

Klaudia - VIC

I first heard of Youth Insearch through my older sister, who had been to a few programs before, so I decided to go along myself. On my first program I was shy and nervous. I had to make friends on my own, which was something I have never been good at. But after listening to everyone else, I realised I wasn’t alone and that there were people in the same boat as me. 

After attending the weekly support group meetings and my second program, everyone was telling me how much I had improved, and that I was coming out of my shell a bit more. I have now been to three programs, and have attended the support group since November 2011. Youth Insearch has helped me with how to cope with my anger, or when I feel down. It has helped me to not bottle up everything, and actually talk about how I am feeling. Before Youth Insearch, I suppose you could say I had a rough early childhood, so I have kept a lot bottled up, making me an angrier person. But now, im not as shy, and I feel like I can trust people more, and open up to them. I haven’t been in as much trouble at school, and last semester I got the best report I have ever received. 

Youth Insearch has helped me in setting positive goals, and aiming to achieve those goals. With the encouragement Youth Insearch has given me, I am determined to finish year 12, and go to university in hopes to become a successful lawyer. Youth Insearch has encouraged me to reach for the sky, drive hate out with love, and be the best I can possibly be.

 

Laura - QLD

Before attending a Youth Insearch program I was struggling with seeing the kids who bullied me in primary school, every day. This affected me in the way that I started to have panic attacks before I had to go to school because I just didn’t want to go. I isolated myself from my friends and family to the point that I was not attending school and the people I was close to did not know me anymore. Youth Insearch helped me to see that I was not alone and that no matter what I had done they were still there for me and wanted to help me. It also gave me the confidence to do what I needed to do. I gained my confidence from knowing that no one knew me at the start of the start of the camp and yet they wanted to spend their spare time with me and get to know me. I also made the decision to stay at school and to complete year 12. I have now completed grade 12 and am working my way very quickly up to management in my job. I will also be doing various certificates to do with counselling and community services so I can further my involvement in Youth Insearch. After I have gotten a few of the qualifications that I want, I will be setting up a kind of extended Youth Insearch program called ‘Second Chance’. This is because it will give the young people of Australia the second chance they need and may not have gotten otherwise. It is also similar to Youth Insearch as it will be the chance for them to learn important life skills and work through their issues with qualified professionals. I want to give other people the second chance Youth Insearch gave me.

 

Liesel- Vic

I came to Youth Insearch and was a leader back in the late 1980's in Victoria. I returned to the program as a social worker in 2005. Since then I have been bringing young people through the program. Leadership gave me the confidence to leave social work and start her own business which is giving women confidence to go on amazing overseas experiences.

 

 

Mark - QLD

I was 13 years old before coming to camp I was disruptive at school. The local youth workers asked me if I would like to come to Youth Insearch. I asked him what is it and they said it was a camp for young people like myself. Camp was very helpful at a young age because there were kids like me. As an adult it helped me turn into the person that I am today. Now I am a youth worker and I work for ‘DOCS’ Child safety and love doing it because it feels like I have given back because it helped me. Now I am a 26 year old man with a beautiful wife and two beautiful little girls!

 

 

Merinda - NSW

As a young person I experienced assault, parent adolescent issues, grief and homelessness. Sometimes I am not even sure how I survived. My first Youth Insearch program was as a support adult at the age of 25. I was absolutely amazed with the transformation of the young people from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. It was magic. I was also aware of the transformation within myself. Having already empowered myself, Youth Insearch gave me the extra push to go back to college where I am today, studying Drug and Alcohol and Mental health to gain to knowledge required to help young people empower themselves and make positive changes in their lives. I am now an Accredited Leader with Youth Insearch and a support adult. Each program I attend is a new and rewarding experience. I feel the work I do as a volunteer is effective, supportive and I learn something new every time.

 

Mollie - Vic

Before Youth Insearch I was a very disrespectful young person who was caught up in the wrong things. I was taking drugs, not going to school and running away from home all the time. Since coming to Youth Insearch I have re-evaluated my values and ethics, becoming very respectful of all people and things, I have completed year 12 the same year as doing leaders training and has gone back to work at a school becoming an integration aide.

 

 

Myriam - NSW

Since birth I was known to children services due to being neglected, abused and violence in the home. I was placed into care when I was six years old, however I was separated from my sister. To me living in care was no different than being with parents. As a child I suffered a lot of trauma, I grew up to be an angry, confused and isolated young teen. I was introduced to Youth Insearch at fourteen years old. My attitude towards other people changed from being angry to being lovable. At fourteen I was blessed to be given a hug, something so ordinary yet extraordinary. For the first time I knew how to feel loved.

Due to my childhood I was diagnosed with having Borderline Personality Disorder as well as Reactive Attachment Disorder, unfortunately at this stage I'm unable to work however I still take part in volunteering as much as I can with Youth Insearch and working on my own progress with Mental Health. I hope one day soon, I will be studying psychology to work towards children and young adolescents who suffer with emotional behaviors before leading to a mental diagnosis."