Tuesday, October 23, 2012

school focused youth services, it needs to continue

At the last meeting of the Municipal Association of Victoria I was nominated to represent the Yarra Ranges Council.

I was pleased to be able to represent council as I had to speak to a matter very dear to my heart, the School Focused Youth Services program. Yarra Ranges had put a motion to MAV members to support advocacy to retain the service. I'm pleased that 97% of MAV members supported the motion.

First established in 1997, the School Focused Youth Service (SFYS) is an initiative that supports primary and secondary students in effective prevention and early intervention for vulnerable 10 - 18 year olds.

Of concern is the announcment that the future of the SFYS program beyond June 2013 will be dependent on the outcome of a review of services funded to support vulnerable children.

In the east the SFYS has been particularly effective to address:
- Making a positive transition from primary to secondary school
- Reducing bullying/cyber bullying and improving cyber safety
- Improving emotional health, well being and self esteem
- Building positive school cultures through restorative practices and relationship building
- Improving self discipline, anger management, building leadership skills
- Promoting community volunteering and inter generational/cultural connection
- Improving relationship and health choices associated with adolescence
- Providing mentoring
- Improving cultural understanding and communication skills
- Improving the inclusion of students with disabilites
- Providing information for parents.

In 2011/12 a total of 9,100 young people took part in 91 different SYFS funded programs.

The state government has advised that funding for SFYS beyond the current extension to June 2013 is subject to review. To date there has been minimal opportunity for dialogue in relation to this and no published timetable or further information about the review, casting doubt on the future of the program.

The SFYS relies entirely on state governent funding to operate and will cease if such funding is withdrawn. As a preventative program its loss will create higher costs to other state departments and agencies.

Let's hope that the state government heeds the calls to commit to the future of the program by providing long term funding agreements for local government and other SFYS providers. To do any less will be a great disservice to our young people. 

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