Celebrating 30 years of success at Brisbane Youth Outreach Service
15 January 2018
The Salvation Army Youth Outreach Service (YOS) held a massive street party at their Spring Hill campus in inner-city Brisbane last October to celebrate 30 years of helping vulnerable young people overcome adversity and build independence.
Past and present YOS staff, volunteers, clients and supporters joined members of the community at the street party, which featured a spit roast, fairy floss, musicians, a jumping castle, competitions, sideshow alley games and other fun activities.
More than 60,000 young people have turned their lives around through the support and guidance of the Salvos’ specialist educators, case managers, support workers, mentors and volunteers since the service started in 1987 in Stones Corner, on Brisbane’s south side.
“From its humble beginnings 30 years ago with a small team of outreach workers and volunteers, YOS now operates a non-state independent school, tailored education programs, a learner-driver mentor program, and accommodation support services from four campuses in Spring Hill, Stafford, Lawnton and Goodna,” said Darren McGhee, Manager of YOS.
“The new KickStart Program provides a mobile support to young people who are at risk of homelessness to stay housed. KickStart is for youth who have a current tenancy and are experiencing issues that have destabilised their accommodation.
“While this celebration is to acknowledge the work and successes of the past 30 years, we also want to show young people who are at risk today that there is hope and support for them to make a positive change for the future.
A former student shares her story of positive change below:
“I just couldn’t wait to tell staff [at Salvos’ Youth Outreach Services] how much they changed my life,” said Shae. “I couldn’t wait to introduce my family to them and show them where I am in life now and how truly thankful I am.”
As a new mum and engaged to be married, and enjoying a successful and satisfying career path as an Executive Support Officer in the public service, Shae has an enormously positive outlook on life.
When she heard recently about the YOS 30th birthday celebrations, she says she was “just bursting to go back” and thank them.
“I just couldn’t stop hugging everyone, especially my teacher Sam who was just an amazing part of my journey,” she said.
From a large and happy family, Shae’s challenges began in 1998. Her family moved in the middle of her first year of high school and Shae struggled to make new friends in Brisbane. She says the kids in the “wrong crowd” were the only ones who accepted her.
Within a few years Shae was caught up in a culture where stealing, alcohol and drug use were rife. Her studies deteriorated rapidly, she dropped out of school, and ran away from home.
She realises now that her family was trying desperately to help her but at the time she left feeling angry, hurt and depressed.
After getting into trouble with the law for something she hadn’t done, a friend of Shae’s told her about YOS in Brisbane’s Spring Hill. Shae went to see them.
The YOS team helped Shae establish her innocence in court. She returned home and signed up to finish her schooling with the service.
“My self-esteem improved dramatically as I progressed through my Year 10 studies with YOS,” she said. “My teacher Sam was amazing; she took the time to work one-on-one with me and worked at my pace. She showed me how to tackle each assessment with a positive mindset and I saw that the effort I put in paid off.”
Shae became a straight ‘A’ student and graduated from Year 12 with three additional certificates, which she says have helped fast-track her career.
“Without YOS support, I may have ended up homeless, with a very negative outlook on life and still estranged from my family,” she said.
“I could have spiralled out of control. I definitely wouldn’t have a career and such strong relationships with my family that I have now. The support and the community aspect [at YOS] is also really special. They don’t judge, they just take you under their wing, connect with and support you.
“I’m still friends with a lot of the kids I went to [YOS] school with and all of them have gone on to amazing things and changed for the better, including my brother. He’d had a lot of trouble with focus and his marks, ended up going to school at YOS and like so many others, his life also changed dramatically.”
By Naomi Singlehurt & Simone Worthing