Backing our community

Backing skills for life

“My family lives in Victoria and my dad died when I was 4. Having someone there when I am stressed out and need advice has been amazing. I’ve learned to speak up more, to stand up for myself more. It’s brought out my confidence and it’s helped me get back into work.”

Natalie came to us motivated to enhance her parenting skills. Steve from our Step by Step young families team quickly identified she was having issues with housing and money as well, so he worked fast on wrap-around support. He connected Natalie with emergency relief, a housing specialist, a financial counsellor and a ParentsNext worker.

Experts agree that people often need help with building essential life skills to enable them to move from crisis to thriving. For example, coping, parenting, managing emotions, planning and interacting in a workplace are learned over time.

In 2019-20, we were commissioned to back young people to transition from out-of-home care through a Queensland Government-funded service called Next Step Plus. We offer Next Step Plus in Logan, Bayside and Beaudesert, and sub-contract the Gold Coast Youth Service to deliver it on the Gold Coast. For young people who have experienced trauma and dislocation, developing basic life skills can be difficult. Our Next Step Plus team partners with Child Safety Officers to help young people plan for the independent lives they want. For young people who are struggling after leaving care, we provide practical support and coaching. In the past year, we also partnered with the Create Foundation to deliver their Create Your Future Life skills development program, designed with young people who have care experiences.

2019-20 represented the second year of our Functional Family Therapy-Child Welfare trial. An evaluation of the trial indicated this evidence-based family therapy model created real change for families at risk of child safety intervention. Through the program, families work with skilled family therapists to learn such skills as communication and self-regulation. We will continue the trial for a third year to enable us to further adapt the model to the local context.

Legal skills and knowledge for First Nations people was the focus of a developmental project undertaken by YFS Legal. With a grant from Legal Aid, YFS Legal employed First Nations legal students to consult with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about their legal needs. The analysis highlighted demand for community education about civil and criminal law topics impacting communities.

Meanwhile, we received a grant from the Department of Housing and Public Works through the COVID-19 Dignity First fund to help people experiencing homelessness improve their digital literacy. To cope with so many things going virtual, our Spark team provided people with computers and phones, and helped them get online for training, job applications, education and services.

  • In 2020-21, YFS Legal will develop and trial a community legal education toolkit to address priorities identified through their First Nations Legal Needs Analysis.
  • Substation33 will partner with Griffith University to develop water quality meters, providing opportunities for jobseekers to learn manufacturing and technology skills.

When COVID-19 school restrictions forced most Logan school students to learn from home, it became obvious that many faced significant challenges, including a lack of access to computers and data.

Our electronic waste recycling enterprise Substation33 stepped in to help. Substation33 refurbished 413 computers in three months, distributing them to disadvantaged families. Organisations such as Logan Together, Access Community Services, Beenleigh Housing, Soroptomists International, the Ursuline Sisters and Logan City Council worked together to get computers to the families that needed them.

Computer access wasn’t the only barrier to education many students faced. Across YFS, our teams helped equip families and young people to learn from home during the COVID-19 outbreak, and advocated to schools for the most vulnerable students to be allowed to learn face to face.

We have tracked a series of outcomes across our organisation for several years. In 2019-20, we began tracking two new measures: hope and skills. We asked 748 clients who were finishing their work with us whether they felt better able to deal with a similar situation than when we had first met them. Most reported being a lot better equipped with the skills they needed.

Many of our teams track change in people’s skills and education; it’s a priority for every YFS worker. Practical support to resolve a crisis delivers short-term results, where skills to cope with future adversity and education to build independence, are essential ingredients for thriving.

Increased coping skills

Source: YFS Organisational Outcomes

Training lands Felicity a job

“It’s given me opportunities. It’s given me a lot of experience, so if I would like to go into retail, I’d know how to handle situations. At first, I thought I wasn’t going to get the job, and then I got it and I was like, wow!”

Our Spark worker Deb quickly recognised that all Felicity needed to get into the job market was some basic skills and confidence, so she encouraged her to undertake security guard training organised by our ParentsNext team. Felicity used the training as a springboard into regular paid employment. Now, she aims to establish her first home.