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Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs
Harmful use of alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
House of Reps
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Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs
Snowdon, Warren, MP
Price, Melissa, MP
Neumann, Shayne, MP
Coulton, Mark, MP
Perrett, Graham, MP
Ramsey, Rowan, MP
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Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs
(House of Reps-Tuesday, 17 February 2015)
CHAIR (Dr Stone)
- Ms PRICE
Content WindowStanding Committee on Indigenous Affairs - 17/02/2015 - Harmful use of alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
SPENCER, Ms Melanie Gwen, Team Leader, Youth Empowered Towards Independence
CHAIR: Welcome. We got a sheet from you. I think everyone has a copy of it in front of them. Would you like to begin with an opening statement?
Ms Spencer : Yes. YETI is primarily a drug and alcohol service that works with young people aged 10 to 25 in the Cairns region. We have been funded for 20 years and we see our niche area as working with highly vulnerable young people. YETI runs a number of state and federally funded programs, including youth support and transition-from-care programs funded by the Queensland department of communities, youth drug and alcohol case management through Queensland Health and drug and alcohol counselling, which receives federal Department of Health funding . We have also historically been funded by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to address volatile substance misuse. We employ approximately 15 full-time staff of which one-third are Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander.
Across our programs we see approximately 1,000 young people annually. YETI runs a care model that transitions young people through multiple support services within our agency. The day program, which is a soft entry point, provide services such as food, a GP clinic, Centrelink support and free legal advice. Through this program we link young people to AOD case management as well as therapeutic counselling programs. The day program sees approximately 300 individual young people annually—85 per cent from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds. Most of their issues are complex and involve the child protection and youth justice systems. They have experienced homelessness, family violence and dislocation from community and culture.
YETI sees many young people with significant drug and alcohol issues. Alcohol obviously causes significant harm to the young people we work with both via their personal use and the use of their family, friends and broader community. Due to the high level of vulnerability and the complexity of issues faced by the young people who access our service, transitional approaches to alcohol reduction such as clinical therapeutic methods and health education and information are not always the most effective approach. We have found that a range of coordinated and integrated approaches that take into account the context of each individual's life are required.
We would like to raise four points we see as significant for our young people. Firstly, we see disconnection from culture and family as a significant contributor to young people's drug and alcohol use. Many of our clients have experienced dislocation from country and culture because of child protection, urbanisation and relocation from the Cape and Torres Strait. YETI has found that supporting young people to visit their home country and rebuild relationships with family and community has had significant positive outcomes. In the last financial year, YETI funded and supported 52 young people to return to their families and/or community. We often use this approach in replace of rehab as it can provide natural supports in an environment where alcohol may be less readily available.
Secondly, young people who access our service have multiple and complex issues and needs and therefore have often engaged with a variety of agencies with services which may or may not be coordinated. It is observed that coordinated and integrated support systems have significant benefits to clients engaged in alcohol use. YETI participates in a range of integrated care panels and networks. Specifically YETI has been actively involved in the formation of the Coordinated Care For Vulnerable Young People panel. This is a mechanism that involves a number of government and non-government agencies to work together to provide coordinated, accountable and transparent services and responses to vulnerable young people. If you would like more info, that is what the flyer I gave you is about.
Thirdly, young people engaged in YETI predominantly have complex histories and have experienced intergenerational disadvantage and exclusion. Consequently, young people and their families experience trust issues when it comes to services and may face barriers when engaging with support. YETI believe relationship based practice is essential when engaging vulnerable target groups. We think the majority of our positive client outcomes occur when we have established a trusting relationships which has been developed over significant time. Many YETI clients have engaged with our service on a regular basis for years. When working on issues such as alcohol use, we believe enduring relationships and long-term, consistent support are essential as young people will be ready for change at different and opportunistic stages in their lives.
Finally, there are many social issues that impact on our target group, including intergenerational disadvantage and trauma. Additionally, issues such as housing, high youth unemployment, early school leaving and criminogenic factors further impact on young people's functioning and their related alcohol use. We see alcohol misuse as both cause and resultant issue.
We think that enhanced employment training and educational pathways for young people would significantly reduce alcohol use and prevent long-term substance dependency issues. We believe creating positive alternatives greatly contributes to reducing alcohol use amongst young people.
CHAIR: Thanks very much for that. How many young people did you say you have in your service?
Ms Spencer : We see 1,000 young people a year, roughly, but we have 300 young people that consistently come through our day programs. We have some other programs—one which, just because the department of communities funding has changed, has had to change its profile. Previously we used to run an outreach service that would go into high-density housing areas; we have a trailer with circus stuff and stuff like that. That program would see a lot of young people several times a week. We also have the therapeutic counselling programs. They have a lot of referrals outside the thing. So that is where the other 700 young people are.
CHAIR: This is mostly the Cairns area?
Ms Spencer : Yes, we just do the Cairns area.
CHAIR: Where do your referrals come from? Are they from the police or schools, or are people self-referring?
Ms Spencer : With the day program, because of some of the things associated with the young people, we often do not take referrals into that program unless we really know that the young people are going to be similar and might be exposed to what our young people are already doing. We take some referrals in, but most of the young people that come to the service come with friends and family. That is how they generally come in.
CHAIR: So like a self-discovery or self-referral.
Ms Spencer : Yes, that is right.
CHAIR: Before we go on to all the other people wanting to ask questions, how many would you suspect have foetal alcohol disorders—FAS or FASD?
Ms Spencer : That is a bit of a tricky question. I do not really think I am enough of an expert in that kind of area to say. Some would, but we do not have many coming in with very obvious physical foetal alcohol things. But a lot of them would have been exposed to alcohol in the pregnancy.
CHAIR: Do you have reproductive health or contraception advice given to your young people?
Ms Spencer : Yes, we have a GP come in once a week, and she is from sexual health. So she comes in and does all sorts of things—puts Implanons in the girls and that kind of stuff. So we do do a lot of work on sexual health.
CHAIR: Finally, how do you measure your success? What are the indicators that mean you can put a tick against that person's name at the end of the period of time to say, 'We have succeeded with this person'?
Ms Spencer : We have a whole lot of outcomes tools. We have what we call the ORS, but I know it has a different name. I cannot remember the name; I can speak to the manager. I do not normally organise our outcomes tools. We also use—what is it called? Sorry, my brain is not working, but it is a star one. We also use that for the panel to range the outcomes of how the panel has worked. I should be able to think of it, because it is a very good thing. But I can forward it through to you.
CHAIR: Yes. You said you have 52 young people who have been helped to return to their traditional country. I am just wondering: is there follow-up then to see how they fared there?
Ms Spencer : All the young people that attend our service keep in very regular contact. A lot of them, if they are incarcerated, put us on their phone list, and we maintain phone calls. For most of the young people that might return to country, we do that with a lot of support. We will contact family and stuff like that. Maybe we will contact ATODs, who go up to the cape, or one of those sorts of services to make sure that they are still getting support. But most of them will continue to call us while they are up there and get a lot of phone support or any of that kind of thing. So the majority of our clients, even though they move and go places, will continue to contact us.
CHAIR: I have said 'finally' twice, but do you also assist people to get into some sort of training, education or employment?
Ms Spencer : We really try with that. Unfortunately, a lot of our young people are early school leavers. A fair few of them do not even make it to high school. So we support them before they go to their JSA appointments and all that kind of stuff. We try to get them into things but, unfortunately, sometimes their substance use and stuff like that makes it quite difficult, because they will often miss appointments and stuff like that. But there are limited pathways and stuff as well, I think, for these young people.
Mr SNOWDON: What proportion of your clients would be classified as homeless?
Ms Spencer : I cannot tell you an exact percentage, but it is quite high. I do mostly intakes. It is probably over 50 per cent. However, it is not rough-sleeping homeless people. A lot of those people are living in overcrowded households.
Mr SNOWDON: Yes, couch surfing.
Ms Spencer : Yes, that is right; there is a lot of couch surfing. Unfortunately, some accommodation involves staying with some dodgy old men and things like that. It is not rough sleeping so much, but it is definitely overcrowded households or couch surfing.
Mr SNOWDON: If you were to try to construct a picture of what substances may be being abused, what would they be?
Ms Spencer : Alcohol is very prevalent. Cannabis is massive as well. We do have a little bit of ice moving in. Some of the young people are involved with party drugs and stuff, but it is not that so much. It does tend to be alcohol and a lot of cannabis.
Ms PRICE: You were asked before by Sharman about how you measure success. I appreciate that is a little difficult, but do you measure people who come back again because they have fallen off the wagon, to coin a phrase? Do you keep those statistics?
Ms Spencer : Yes. I would not be able to tell you numbers and stuff like that, but a lot of people are coming back and then back out. It is often that people are seeking help and they might fall off or they might do better in some stages. To be honest, they often do better away from our service because our service is very much a service that deals with them and that crisis type point. We will get them ready to go to rehab or something like that and in rehab they will probably have better outcomes. We are sort of a stepping stone to the next steps.
Ms PRICE: So you are a coordinator of all of these services. So if you channelled them into rehab they might go directly back to rehab rather than come back to you? So you may not even capture that information in that circumstance.
Ms Spencer : We would capture that they had gone to rehab. I know one young person who went to rehab pretty much for four years. Then they would move on. The ages we work with, 18 to 26, is not a period when they are ready to make a lot of change. From 26 onwards is when they are more in that position. The tool I was talking about was the Outcomes Star tool. We run that through QNARDA. That captures people coming and then a close in a period and a restart in a period. It is hard to capture how many people are coming in and out. People can do really well after maybe a period of being incarcerated or something like that. They often will not want to come back to YETI because then they are associating with those peers, so we might not be able to see that.
Mr NEUMANN: Cairns is renowned as a place of tourism. It has a transient tourist population but also Indigenous people. There are about 154,000 people living in Cairns, who come from everywhere. How does that contribute to the challenges that young people face here, particularly in relation to alcohol?
Ms Spencer : It does have a big impact particularly because of the AMPs in place within the community and stuff. People might come down for the hospital or something and start drinking and get stuck a little bit. Sometimes it happens with our clients. We have one client we sent back up to Bamaga but she had to come back down to have an MRI and then she had quite a good time down here. It is difficult. We try to encourage her to get back up again.
Also there is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander group money kind of situation. There is money. It is always someone's payday, so there is always a little bit of money floating around for drinking and stuff like that. A fair few of our young people are involved with the transient drinking scene we have here in Cairns and a lot of people are related to people involved with that, so that can be a bit of a drawcard for them, particularly I find when they get to about 17 or 18, when you would like them to be transitioning to employment and stuff. But if they have not really got that opportunity they tend to radiate towards, 'I'm having a lot of fun with these people over here who are drinking a lot; why should I be following up these responsibilities?' It is really difficult that there are not those opportunities to create that balance.
Mr NEUMANN: What about your connection with the local schools? Are you actively involved with them?
Ms Spencer : We are actively involved with a whole range of schools and through that panel we work very closely with DETE, trying to get people back into schools. Unfortunately, our flexi-learning centre recently lost its funding. There is another Catholic ed one that has been opened but those sort of options, which would probably be more appropriate for our client group, are not there so much. However, we find schools are really good at providing flexible entry type programs—re-entry programs. A lot of our young people who have been out of school for maybe two years are not ready to go back to school full time, so they might just be going back for two hours a day, nine to 11, until they build up on that. We find those sort of re-entries into school are really useful at making it more interesting for them. It is difficult once young people have been exposed to smoking dope and partying all day or that kind of thing. School—getting your homework done—is quite a difficult thing. This is a really positive way to go. TAFE's great because, with a lot of the kids doing things like smoking cigarettes and stuff, they struggle with school—having to go back and not being able to smoke and stuff—whereas TAFE has a more independent feel about it. Again, we do struggle with their substance use. They will have successes, which are great, and you try to build on those; however they sometimes slip back down again.
Mr NEUMANN: You mentioned that 'our flexi-learning centre lost funding'—what do you mean? Do you mean yours?
Ms Spencer : It is not mine, sorry; it is the Cairns one—the Queensland funded DETE one is not active. However, the Catholic ed one is great and that is another alternative.
Mr COULTON: I have just a couple of questions. With that age group you are dealing with, are you finding that the girls are more vulnerable? Are they subject to more abuse, being more reliant on other people for accommodation and things?
Ms Spencer : It really depends on the group, and I have noticed that things have changed quite a lot over the time I have been working. Previously, probably about five or 10 years ago, the girls were a lot more vulnerable. The girls were a little bit more prone. It is our older girls who now use that 'opportunistic prostitution for accommodation' type of thing. However, it really depends on the person.
The girls are quite vulnerable. At the moment we have a lot of pregnancies, even though we get Implanons and stuff. They really like them when they are about 13 but then, by the time they are about 16, they do not want them anymore and when, after three years, they get them out, they will not put them back in again. We find that what the girls tend to do is want to have a baby at about 18 or earlier. A couple of people will have a baby and then bring it up a bit of a mushroom.
Mr COULTON: That vulnerability, that cutting loose in an age group, is not just an Aboriginal issue. It happens right across. What I am wondering is: when they get to the top end of the age group, and some people decide they want to grow up and become responsible and do things, are you noticing a difference between people that have maybe had an alcohol problem, as compared to ice? I am hearing that once you have had an ice habit it is very hard to get yourself back to a normal life. You get permanent brain damage and things like that. Are you noticing that with the people you are dealing with or not?
Ms Spencer : We have a lot of people who are also involved with sniffing volatile substances and stuff like that, so we end up with people with brain damage from that. A lot of people, especially with cannabis, their mental health really goes. Often that can happen a lot earlier than 26, particularly with boys; I do not know why. Well, I do know why; with boys I notice that by about 20 you look at them and go, 'Hmmm.' So it is hard for people with those sorts of issues already to get jobs. I think that in the job market, at 26, coming in with very little work history and not having finished their high school education—you would be lucky if it is year 9 or year 10—they will always miss out, I suppose.
Mr COULTON: Are you finding permanent impairment through alcohol use as well?
Ms Spencer : It really depends, I think, because it is such a broad group. I do notice that young people engage in drinking methylated spirits or mouthwash. Once they are involved with that sort of use of alcohol products, that does affect their health, particularly.
CHAIR: It does, yes.
Mr COULTON: Thank you.
Mr PERRETT: I was just wondering, Ms Spencer, if you have had any interaction—or if any of your clients have—with the boot camp facility up here in North Queensland.
Ms Spencer : Yes, we have. Sorry I am smiling.
Mr PERRETT: Could you just make a comment on that, and also on this: I think there is the capacity for schools to exclude people, and then the other school that they turn up at is able to access the criminal records, effectively, of young people.
Ms Spencer : Most of our young people have quite extensive criminal history, so we do have experience with boot camps.
Mr PERRETT: Was it successful, particularly for people that had alcohol issues?
Ms Spencer : Our first clients were the ones that created a bit of an issue up at the first boot camp.
Mr PERRETT: Where they absconded.
Ms Spencer : Yes. That was not very successful. We have not had a great number of clients go through the second boot camp. We have had some because of the car theft thing—you know, your second or third car theft and you go to boot camp. In 2009, I think, we had masses of young people that were involved with theft and such, and those young people are now about 18, so they are now involved in the adult system. For boys in particular, we have not had a massive surge of boys come back through, but we have a lot of girls in that age group. We have a lot of young girls that are in and out of the detention centre in Brisbane, and a lot of our young people have very violent offences, so I think that that might rule them out.
Mr PERRETT: There is only one female youth detention facility in Queensland—is that right?
Ms Spencer : Yes, and that is in Brisbane. Girls, however, can go to boot camp, so they might go for the car offences. I think that is why we have not had so many go through boot camp: because they are often violent offences. A lot of them are on alcohol; they are often drunk when they are involved in these violent offences. A lot of tourists and stuff come here, and a lot of the offences are robberies on tourists—bag snatches and things like that that kind of go wrong. So they have very hefty criminal involvement.
Mr PERRETT: Have you revisited those clients after the boot camp, in terms of alcohol management?
Ms Spencer : As I was saying, very few of ours can get into boot camp.
Mr PERRETT: Okay, because of the violence.
Ms Spencer : None have actually gone into boot camp, because of their offences. It would have to be more low-level offending. I think that is in the changes they made when they changed the boot camp model a little bit, and ours are offending a lot higher than that.
Mr PERRETT: The second question was unrelated in a way, but it is in terms of that—being excluded from school and then rocking up at a new school and the principal being able to access their criminal history.
Ms Spencer : Yes, it is very difficult, I find, to enrol some of our young people in schools, especially now it is zoned and there is the exclusion and that kind of thing. Exclusion can be great for us sometimes, because it means that they are able to go to another school. That allows movement and stuff like that, so they are not so—
Mr PERRETT: It could be a circuit-breaker from a bad cohort?
Ms Spencer : Yes, that is right. I am trying to enrol someone in a school at the moment. They do not even have a very bad youth justice history, but they have some mental health issues and a whole range of family issues, and they have been excluded from another school, so I know that that is going to be a difficult one. What I have done around that is that I have contacted the contacts we have through the panel and through DETE and stuff. We have sent a lot of emails and stuff like that, so it is sort of connected. So it would be difficult for them to say no.
Mr PERRETT: They can prepare and plan and support rather than—
Ms Spencer : That is right. It is linked in a little bit, so there will be emails through to other areas. So it is just a little bit more difficult to say no; whereas, I know when we have done it before without the emails and things it is a bit easier for them to say no.
Mr PERRETT: If they are outside the catchment area, you mean? Or can they be excluded just because they do not want to deal with—
Ms Spencer : They would not say, 'We are excluding them because we do not want this young person here.' They could say things like, 'It happens that another young person they were involved with in the incident is also enrolled in that school.' They could say things like, 'It is not going to be helpful for both of them if she comes to the school.' They can say a whole range of things that is not saying, 'We are excluding you because of this school thing.' But generally schools are really good. Generally, the schools will give everyone a go. It just depends on how ready the young people are to be going. Sometimes there is a lot of work and schools can be great at being really flexible for young people, but then they wear off on that. It is all about timing often—for example, 'It has taken us three weeks to get this organised and now the young person is not interested anymore,' but a month later they are ready to go again, but they have worn off the—
CHAIR: You are painting a pretty depressing picture of over 1,000 young people, 300 active clients, who appear to be mostly outside the education system and have very little hope of a job and are dependent on various drugs—polydrug users.
Ms Spencer : It is, isn't it?
CHAIR: When these young women have their babies at about 18 or so—having decided contraception is not a good idea anymore—do they get active support in their mothering or their parenting? Are the fathers of the babies engaged as fathers and told, 'This is your child too and you have got responsibilities as a parent'? How does that work? Where does the mother live when she has got this newborn? Is she still homeless? Is there a place she can go to? Does her original family re-embrace her?
Ms Spencer : To be honest, some of them may then become involved with the child protection system.
CHAIR: The children are fostered out?
Ms Spencer : Yes, it could possibly be. Often the babies will be cared for within the family or sometimes, because of islander adoption, other family members may care for the baby. You can see that some of the mothers are really good mums. There is a young parenting program connected to another youth service that we refer them to.
CHAIR: So there is a parenting program where they can have a check-up and gain skills?
Ms Spencer : Yes, and they continue to provide support. Again, a big problem is that accommodation is very hard to come by, particularly at that age in the private market—though they have got more money. We do struggle with the fact that up until the baby is born most of the young people—even on youth allowance and where it is unreasonable to live at home—do not have enough money to acquire a private rental, so they are floating around. Some of the dads are quite good. Some of the dads stay around but then sometimes some of the relationships are not long-lasting relationships. It can be quite challenging. There can be some positive outcomes. I have seen some quite good mums and then of course you get other things. It is a bit of a mixed bag.
Mr SNOWDON: Do you know what proportion, if any, of these young mums drink when they are pregnant?
Ms Spencer : That is a concern. It would probably be quite high. However, sometimes they get it and sometimes they do not. We try to explain: 'You know when you are drinking, if you are feeling grog sick, how does your baby feel?' It is that kind of thing all the time. They will stop, but I suppose in the first trimester it is often difficult because there is a bit of denial about the pregnancy sometimes. That is probably when there is a bit of damage done. It is a concern—how much drinking is occurring in those pregnancies.
Mr SNOWDON: Where would they access health services?
Ms Spencer : Often, through our case management system, we will support them to attend a whole range of health services, and they are just traditional ones, like coming to the hospital for their midwife appointments. They might use Wuchopperen, which is the local Indigenous health service. Our sexual health doctor will provide if we are worried. They generally get quite good care if they are on engagement. Sometimes it can be difficult to make all the appointments—they do not turn up and that kind of thing. But there is a bit going on.
Mr SNOWDON: What proportion would have STDs?
Ms Spencer : It is very, very high. I think we have got on top of it now. The sexual health doctor has probably been coming to us for about three years now, but I think it was about 18 months before we had the first week where no-one had an STI, and the reinfection rate is really high as well, so it is constant. It is great—she comes and provides a fantastic service for us. From very young, people have STIs that are quite serious.
Mr SNOWDON: Male and female?
Ms Spencer : The boys will never see the doctor; the girls love it. You could come and ask the boys, 'Do you want to see the doctor?' and they know what I am up to. However, she does a lot of patching of injuries and stuff, which they often have, so we can work on it like that. At one stage we did a 'piss for pedals' type thing, where everyone did piss tests and it was a draw for who got a bike—'You've won the bike!' We do that kind of thing to try and encourage getting on top of the STIs. But it is very high.
Mr SNOWDON: What is the age group you are dealing with? What would be the youngest?
Ms Spencer : We are 10 to 26. With 10-year-olds we will often see them through our outreach program and stuff like that. However, we do have 10-year-olds come in who are floating around with their older brothers and sisters. We really try to discourage 10-year-olds in this service. We have a fair few 12-year-olds that we see on a regular basis. But it is up to 25, turning 26.
CHAIR: Where do they go after 26?
Ms Spencer : There is a gap then. What we have done, which we have got special approval for, is that we continue to provide support for people on a disability pension until they are 30. At the moment there are only three young people that we provide ongoing support to, and they have very complex issues going on. One of them has a brain injury from sniffing.Another one has mental health issues. There was not a place to refer them to. Often they will come and see us every day. So that level of support would be really missed in their life.
Mr SNOWDON: Is chroming an issue here?
Ms Spencer : It goes up and down a lot, but it is an issue. We have done quite a lot of work. Previously we have had funding and we would go to the cape and do capacity building and stuff like that. It really depends on who is around and what is happening. We find that it suddenly tends to spike. At the moment deodorant is a massive issue for us. It is much harder to pick. Traditionally we have had a lot of glue and paint, which was really obvious and you would know that that was going on, whereas with deodorants, not so much. We get a lot of referrals around sniffing. A police officer rang me the other day about a kid sniffing petrol and stuff, so we will go out and do a response to that.
Mr SNOWDON: Are retailers responsive when you raise these issues? In Alice Springs, for example, retailers will take products off the shelf.
Ms Spencer : The money we received for sniffing was for the cape. We did a lot around the communities, but it was also around tradies and people like that. There is another service called Youth Substance Abuse Service that has done the retail information. They, sort of, are and generally have been. We will find out that the kids are going to the shops to get it, so we will go in there. However, paint manufacturers have done some things, and it is the same with glue. That has been really, really helpful. It is now the deodorants and stuff which are the issue.
CHAIR: Are most of your people on welfare of some sort, Youth Allowance or something?
Ms Spencer : Yes. Most of them are on Centrelink, however it is very hard to maintain them on Centrelink because they often miss appointments. Because of the flow of money they sometimes think that they are okay. Eight weeks is a very long time for them to have no money. We do a lot of work. Centrelink comes into YETI and assists with all that kind of stuff. All or most of them are on Centrelink.
Mr RAMSEY: When someone has been breached, their payment is withheld, and when they comply in the next fortnight, they get double. The previous payment would be freed up so they get a higher payment. They do not forfeit the payment; it comes back. Is that a problem to you? Do you see that surge in income? They have more disposable income than they would have had.
Ms Spencer : Yes. I find that they lose that.
Mr RAMSEY: As far as I know most of them get it back.
Ms Spencer : Where they do have money is when it can take a long time for process. You are right in that sometimes they get lump payments coming through. They might apply on a certain date and it might take ages to get that benefit through because it is hard to find them and things like that. When they do get a payment they can get a backpay of quite a lot, and that can be quite difficult. So we speak to them, and some young people are really good. Some of them will tie it up in a separate bank account or something. Or we will say, 'Can we go with that money and purchase household goods?' and that kind of thing. We do a lot of planning. Centrelink are really good and they will contact us and say that there is going to be a backpay, and it could be a couple of thousand dollars. Then we will negotiate with the young person and say, 'You're going to get paid on this day, and how shall we work that?' so we will plan for it.
Mr COULTON: Your contribution has been most enlightening, yet a little horrifying. I admire people like you who work in this space and who have such a sunny disposition all the time.
Ms Spencer : I think that the young people have a really sunny disposition as well, so it is not depressing. It is depressing, but it does not feel like that when you are doing it.
Mr COULTON: Thank you.
Ms Spencer : Thanks heaps.
CHAIR: Thank you most sincerely, Ms Spencer, for your evidence and for the written information you have given us. As I have said to other witnesses, you will receive a draft transcript to check the details of spellings and other matters such as statistics that we may have misinterpreted. If there is any additional information, please feel free to send it through. We wish you well with all your young people. It makes me a little sad to think of the intergenerational poverty and distress, and of the numbers involved.