School focused youth service co-ordinator Sarah McQualter. Picture: MARK JESSEREDITORIAL:Good new for Border’s youth
A PROGRAM that helps hundreds of vulnerable children in the North East has been resurrected after it was put on the chopping block late last year.
The state government’s move to cut funding at the end of the financial year had attracted criticism from schools and those co-ordinating the School Focused Youth Service program that helps students at risk of suicide, self-harm, drug abuse and offending.
“It’s brilliant that it’s continuing,” North East co-ordinator Sarah McQualter said.
“It wasn’t looking good last year.”
Gateway Community Health has been granted funding for the next two years to provide what the government calls a new model with a fresh set of guidelines.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to continue our work with schools and implement a new model to provide a more co-ordinated response to young people at risk,” Ms McQualter said.
“We will work closely with student support services networks, including principals, wellbeing staff at schools and students support offices to identify the needs of the schools in relation to young people at risk and the services that can provide support to them.
“We are hoping that once we get our head around it we can work with organisations and schools to identify any service gaps.”
The Victorian program, set up by former premier Jeff Kennett in 1997, was a key recommendation of the Suicide Prevention Task Force.
It was funded by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and connects schools with community services, offering funding for programs to help vulnerable people aged 10 to 18.
Since 2009, the program in the North East has funded more than 30 projects from Wodonga to Mount Beauty and up to Corryong.
Ms McQualter said one of the positives to come out of the new model was a more co-ordinated approach to working with other organisations.
“We are also grateful to receive two years worth of funding because in the past it was for just 12 months,” she said.
Wangaratta youth support agency NESAY was also successful in its application to run the program in the Wangaratta area.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.