Youth Insearch CEO, Heath Ducker calls on the Government to look at alternative solutions to address adolescent issues. | Youth Insearch

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Mon, 11/01/2016 - 11:21

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http://www.theherald.com.au/story/3637546/at-risk-youth-arent-getting-th...

There is a well-established need for programs that intervene early and assist at risk young people to improve their lives.

Youth Insearch, which operates in NSW, Queensland and Victoria, is an early intervention program for troubled and at-risk youth. I’ve headed up the charity since 2012, coming back after being a participant in the program when I was 13-22 years old, so it’s with hand on heart that I make this plea to draw attention to the cause.

We focus on resolving adolescent issues at a peer level for young people aged 14-20 years. We co-ordinate unique weekend programs that have an 80 per cent success rate. Since launching 30 years ago, we have worked with more than 30,000 youth. The solution came from other young people themselves who with the founder devised the program in 1985. They identified their need to:

  • Have the opportunity to talk about their issues and concerns in a truly caring and trusting environment.
  • Be listened to and affirmed by their peers, thereby getting a sense that they are not alone (a crucial step for those contemplating suicide).
  • Have the opportunity to gain insights into their own lives by listening to the experiences of others.
  • Be part of the solution, empowering them to solve their own problems into the future.

The program is one of the only programs of its kind where young people can receive peer-to-peer support together with the help of adult counsellors and psychologists. Our latest awareness drive, The Power of Hugs, shows the power safe hugs have, as part of an overall structured program, to help heal and help someone feel loved. In fact, many of the kids who join the program have sadly never received a hug.     

It is by working alongside welfare agencies, schools and local police, that we can reduce youth domestic violence, crime, substance abuse, binge drinking and prevent suicide in young people, as well as enhance self-esteem and productivity through empowering youth.

I believe now is the time for state and federal governments to re-think their approach to the services provided to Australian youth, particularly in the context of the recent cuts to government funding. Successful programs can help to ensure at risk youth no longer commit crime, use drugs or alcohol, or self-harm. It is imperative that young Australians have access to quality support services and programs, rather than populist policy-driven programs, for example, boot camps, which have been scrapped in Queensland recently due to their limited success.

Youth Insearch currently helps 800-1000 Australian youths a year and we would like to grow this number to around 5000 per year by 2020 through strengthening our presence in local areas and increasing staff. With the help of the community, we can empower young people to take control of their lives by giving them the opportunity and skills to develop their self-esteem and play a positive role in society.

Heath Ducker

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/3637546/at-risk-youth-arent-getting-th...