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It takes a village: New beginnings for Townsville young people in mentoring program

Although our youth justice mentoring program in Townsville only launched last year, lead mentor Sal* has already contributed to many successes, both big and small, and built a strong network of partner organisations.

Sal mentors young people in youth justice and during their transition back into the community in our Stand As One program.

Every day, Sal advocates for their rights, connects them with services, motivates them to take control of their futures and provides them with practical support.

“I’ll listen to young people talk about issues they’ve had at home, their goals, and we’ll talk about steps they can take to achieve them. Often, it’s also practical support, helping with documentation, or arranging services.

New partners

Sal has partnered with international organisation LiteHaus to solve one practical issue that is a barrier for many of her young people: access to technology!

Without a laptop in the home they return to after being in custody, young people cannot participate in programs available to them, and even simple things like writing a CV are hard.

By working with LiteHaus, Sal has organised free second-hand laptops for her mentees, which have been game-changing!

The family unit

“Every situation is different, but I always consider the whole family unit when looking at how to best set my mentees up for success,” Sal says.

“Like with Omar*, a 16-year-old boy I mentor in custody. He desperately wanted to see his young sisters, who are two and three years old and in out-of-home care.

“It’s been a long process, but we’ve managed to arrange monthly visits, and seeing them regularly is helping him focus on his goals and think about how he can be a better role model.

“Their mother was recently incarcerated as well, and even though he’s still young, he wants to one day be in a position to look after them.”

With another young person, Guy*, it was clear from the first session his family’s situation would need to be taken into account.

Guy is 17 and started the program while in custody. He’d experienced severe disadvantages in the community, including homelessness and exposure to crime and substance abuse.

“When we met, he could identify that part of the reason he was there was because mum didn’t have a stable home.”

Sal worked closely with him as he transitioned out of custody and re-joined his mother and sister.

The family were couchsurfing and during his transition out of custody, Sal met Guy’s older sister Paloma*. She is bright and eager to work, but the instability of their home life meant she was also struggling.

“Seeing that Guy looks up to his big sister, I knew if I could get her involved in a program, it would not only help her but also encourage him to join in programs as well.”

Sal helped Paloma join the Step into Success program by the organisation Sharehouse, which SHINE for Kids has partnered with, and the family hasn’t looked back!

The program supports young people in getting job-ready, equipping them with everything from interview skills to documentation, training in teamwork, problem-solving, time management, and more.

These skills help young people become highly employable and assets to any workplace they join.

“The feedback from Step into Success has been incredible. Paloma has never missed a session, is highly motivated, and has now also connected with supported housing,” Sal says.

New beginnings

And the plan has worked! Seeing his big sister do so well has hugely encouraged Guy.

The siblings now get up together every morning, get ready, and head off to their respective programs.

Their mother is thrilled to see them both flourishing and said her son has totally transformed. He’s gone from not being motivated to even have a shower in the morning to getting up every day and heading proudly to the program he is doing with Qld Youth Justice, Transition 2 Success, which Sal organised for him to enrol in.

Sal has also supported Guy and his mother in gaining stable housing. It’s been a complex process, and demand is high, but signs are looking positive.

Thanks to many meetings and letters of support from Sal, Guy and his mum are ‘just around the corner’ from a stable home.

Keeping Guy off the streets and unstable housing and away from negative influences will help break a cycle of offending he has been in since a young age.

“He’s on track and doing what he needs to be doing,” says Sal.

“He’s really happy to be getting up every day and going somewhere, just like his sister. He has some direction for the first time in a long time.”

Thank you to the Department of Social Services, which funds Stand As One in Townsville. 

Please support our mentoring programs for young people and donate today

It takes a village: New beginnings for Townsville young people in mentoring program

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