Support for youth an investment in the future

Helping youth is an investment in the next 50 to 70 years – and providing early intervention to young people facing challenges motivates Youth Futures to help as many young people as it can.

The not-for-profit, which has been offering support for homelessness, education and wellbeing for more than 30 years, recently opened its newest facility worth $1 million in Joondalup.

Youth Futures CEO Mark Waite explains how the organisation gives youth somewhere to turn when all seems lost. 

CEO Mark Waite says demand for homeless services is running high due to the housing affordability crisis while the need for alternative education services continues to increase to support young people experiencing homelessness and other challenges.

Youth Futures, which has facilities across Perth’s northern suburbs and Albany, supports more than 2400 people per year. Waite says individualised, long-term support achieves the best outcomes.

“From an education perspective, we’re definitely seeing a need for more support, more variation in service delivery, more alternative education,” he says.

“We prefer to call it appropriate education because there’s nothing alternative about what we do, it’s appropriate for the needs of young people that come and access our services.

“There’s a huge demand for programs that are, I guess, holistic as well. It’s not just about educating young people, it’s about helping them address the mental health challenges, relationship challenges and an array of other life skills.”

With waiting lists for all services, Youth Futures is continuing to expand. But it’s not a matter of building a large facility and sending everyone to it.

“There’s a need for more programs, but I think they need to be designed in a way that is appropriate for the specific cohort they are targeting,” Waite says.

“Opening up a massive centre with 200 to 300 people is never going to work.

“The needs of the young people we work with are better suited to smaller programs where young people feel safe, where we can provide immediate support, more individualised learning and ensure challenges are worked through allowing students to maintain focus on their goals.”

Waite says while Youth Futures receives government funding, it also raises money via fundraising activities and events, philanthropy, trusts and foundations. It also keeps its administration costs to below 9 per cent.

CCIWA via its Education Development Fund (EDF) has been supporting Youth Futures’ Pipeline Challenge fundraiser, where teams and individuals seek sponsorship to ride mountain bikes 600km from Kalgoorlie to Perth along the Golden Pipeline, since 2015.

“All the young people that participate really do sit down afterwards and say, yeah it hurt and I hated it but I did it, filling them with pride, motivation and confidence to commit and try new things.

“It also exposes them to other members of the community that are out there fundraising and wanting to support programs like yours.

“Overall it’s an amazing event, for a number of reasons, and we really do appreciate the support from CCIWA and our other sponsors.”

For more information about Youth Futures, visit here.

The generosity of WA businesses ensures the EDF delivers a range of initiatives aimed at developing the workforce of the future. Find out more here.

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