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New info card gives young people help in a hurry

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Help is now just a phone call way for the thousands of young Australians who face daily difficulties and often need urgent help. They might need a bed for the night, for instance, a meal, money, help with a drug or alcohol crisis, or a legal problem that

can't wait.

Federal Minister for Higher Education and Employment Services,t Peter Baldwin and Federal Minister for Aged, Family and Health/ Services, Peter Staples, today launched an Info Card which lists emergency numbers for young people to call when in need.

Speaking at the Melbourne Youth Access Centre, Mr Baldwin said the Info Card will help young people who are most disadvantaged.

"Many of these young people are not-so-literate while others don't collect written information or keep it for future reference," he said.

"The Info Card will offer them help from the right place at the right time."

There are more than 130 separate cards covering all parts of Australia with graphic symbols to direct young people to services. The size of a credit card, each Info Card comes in a durable wallet.

Mr Staples said the care will be particularly welcome for young people who are homeless.

"These young people are further disadvantaged by their transient life-style. The Info Card will help them access a wide range of services in their local community," he said.

"Those listed in these cards are at the cutting edge of services for homeless people and the people working in them know and understand the needs of these young people and can help them resolve their problems and achieve independence."

The Federal Minister for Social Security, Neal Blewett, said young homeless people are often isolated from support services and need a lot of help dealing with different problems in the areas of accommodation, health and counselling."

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The Department of Social Security has set up 12 pilot projects across five States to provide the it with information which will help it improve its services to young people.

"These projects are very important for agencies such as DSS which are often the first port of call for people seeking help," he said.

"At the same time, Departmental staff will find the Info Card a useful resource in referring young people to support services."

The Info Card is part of the Government's Youth Social Justice Strategy which involves a co-ordinated approach by government agencies and community organisations to improve employment, education and training opportunities for disadvantaged and homeless young people and to assist them with accommodation, income support and access to health care.

"One of the key aims of the strategy is to increase the accessibility of information and advice that can help young people improve their opportunities in life," Mr Baldwin said.

The Info Card is now being distributed through Youth Access Centres (part of the Commonwealth Employment Service network), offices of the Department of Social Security, crisis accommodation centres, refuges and youth outreach services.

Contact: Christine Goonrey (06) 289 5664 Sarah Taylor (06) 277 7540 Richard Moore (06 277 7560




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The Commonwealth Department of Employment, Education and Training's Youth Access Centre network plays a key role in the provision of services to young people, particularly those who are experiencing difficulty in making ' decisions about their future or how to act on their decisions.

Youth Access Centres, commonly known as YACs, are an Australia-wide network of locally-based information and referral services for young people. They are a central contact point for young people who need help, whether it be advice about their future and career, information about unemployment

benefits or other income support, or a confidential discussion about a personal problem. YAC staff also act as advocates for young people, assisting with youth issues and concerns and providing support for youth submissions.

YACs are primarily focused on disadvantaged young people, including marginalised young people, the homeless, the long-term unemployed, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and young offenders. YACs have been established in areas with a high proportion of disadvantaged young

people in line with the priorities of the Youth Social Justice Strategy. As well, mobile YACs in five States are now servicing young people who need outreach services, including rural and isolated young people, youth refuges, community youth centres and schools with special needs. A Koori YAC catering specifically for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was established in Victoria in July this year.

The YAC network aims to increase the number of young people who make a successful transition from school to further education, training and employment. This is achieved by:

. providing a central information, referral and counselling service for young people needing particular information and advice; . identifying and addressing social and personal issues that are preventing young people from accessing education, training and

employment opportunities by providing information and support on a wide range of issues such as accommodation, health and income support; . conducting a schools liaison program which offers a two-tier approach

to the delivery of services to schools, including general information and targeted transition assistance to young people at risk of becoming early school leavers; . providing information and advice on careers options and education and training institutions; and . facilitating the coordination of youth services at the local level to

ensure effective planning and networking of youth service provision across agencies.

The coordination role of the YACs involves acting as resource and referral centres for other agencies. Since 1991 YACs have had responsibility for promoting the coordination of youth servicing and acting as a central contact point for youth providers and youth services in the local area.

This coordination function includes gathering and disseminating information about youth service provision, identifying gaps and duplication in services, and running one-off projects with other youth services. Other coordination activities include:

. development of local youth data profiles; . preparation of directories of local youth service agencies; . cross-agency development of courses and services; . membership of management groups for other youth services; . preparation of papers on local youth issues.

The role of the YACs will be expanded with the introduction of the Youth Career Information Advisory Program, one of the initiatives of the Prime

Minister's July 1992 National Employment and Training Plan for Young Australians. This year's Federal Budget significantly expanded training options for young people and YACs are taking a primary role in advising and helping young people with these further options.


Γ ό » Social Security Department of Social Security

Youth Pilot Projects

The situation facing many young people in the inner city areas is very real to agencies and individuals working in the Youth Sector. A variety of problems converge to compound the difficulties associated with homelessness, lack of strong family

structures, lifestyle issues, poor self image and drug and alcohol misuse.

As a response to these problems the Federal Government has adopted a broad Social Justice Strategy for Youth. In the case o f the Department of Social Security, this translates into the 80 establishment of a number of Youth Pilot Projects.

The Department o f Social Security is often the first port of call for disadvantaged young people seeking Government help.

Launching the first o f the Pilot Programs in June 1992 the Minister for Social Security, Dr Neal Blewett said, "an important point is that once problems associated with providing income support to young homeless people have been

solved, other agencies can help them more constructively by linking them to training and education programs offering support services fo r counselling and health.

"The young homeless are often isolated from support and need a lot o f assistance to deal with different problems in accommodation, health and counselling. Other agencies no longer need to be preoccupied with assisting young people in getting access to income support programs".

The Youth Pilot Projects address the importance to young people of a regular source of income support. Without a reliable income the very basics o f life - food, shelter and clothing - can become insurmountable problems. The future

becomes unpredictable and uncertain.

There are a number of characteristics shared by young homeless people which make it difficult for them to get access to a complex organisation like Social Security:

• communication with a large organisation may not be easy for a person who lacks experience or confidence;

• time and structure may have different meanings for young people, so making and keeping appointments is difficult;

• "in-office" appointments for interviews do not rest easily with young people uncertain about authority;

• when faced with problems young people may withdraw and panic to avoid the issue rather than deal with it.

In addition, the administrative arrangements of the Department may be misunderstood and not responsive to a young homeless persons' special needs and itinerant lifestyle.

The eleven Pilot Projects set up by the Department of Social Security across five States will provide valuable information to improve DSS services to young people.

Projects have been set up in :

Adelaide (Adelaide Youth Outreach Project) Brisbane/Gold Coast (South West Corridor & Gold Coast Mobile Service) Cairns (Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Youth Research

Project) Melbourne (Frankston/Peninsular Youth Project, Frontyard Project, Shepparton Outreach Service,) Perth (Youth Assist, Youthlink) Sydney (Ethnic Youth Service, Inner Sydney Youth Outreach

Service, Western Sydney Outreach Service)

The projects aim to improve services to homeless young people, working in co-operation with other agencies and encouraging clients to participate in employment, education and training. From these projects the Department will obtain

information to improve service delivery to homeless young people.

Department of Social Security, Canberra November 1992



The Federal Government's Youth Social Justice Strategy involves a coordinated approach to improve the employment, education and training opportunities and the adequacy of assistance to the most disadvantaged young people. The strategy emphasises the Federal Government's continuing commitment to youth since 1983. In July 1992 this commitment was demonstrated forcefully through the National Meeting on Youth Training and Employment and the measures that were announced in the 1992-93 Federal Budget.

The Federal Government's social justice principles are a guide to policy formulation in all key areas. These principles commit the Government to working towards a fairer and more just society where:

. economic resources are distributed equitably . there is fair and equal access by all to essential community services . all people have equal rights . all people have the opportunity to participate in personal development,

community life and decision-making

When the Youth Social Justice Strategy was introduced in 1989, it was linked to a comprehensive $100 million four-year package for disadvantaged young people. The package included initiatives covering accommodation for homeless young people, income support, labour market assistance, education, health and access to information, advice and counselling.

In 1991-92 this package was enhanced through increased coordination of services for young people at both the State and local levels, the development of strategies to improve information on services for young people and to increase the readiness of disadvantaged young people to participate in education, training and employment initiatives.

Such measures are especially important to disadvantaged young people, particularly the homeless, who may not take part readily in education and training and who have added difficulties in the transition from school to work or

further study.

In 1992-93 the Youth Social Justice Strategy is increasing the emphasis on providing youth services in rural and remote areas, improved data collection across government agencies in order to monitor participation of disadvantaged young women in the range of youth services and the development of strategies

to meet the needs of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The latter emphasis will relate closely to initiatives coming out of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

An overall evaluation of the Youth Social Justice Strategy during 1992-93 will include an assessment of progress made in increasing access by disadvantaged young people to Commonwealth programs and services.


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The Federal Department of Health, Housing and Community Services currently administers

. the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP): $95,619 million allocated in 1992-93 and .

. the Crisis Accommodation Program (CAP): 5.345 million allocated in 1992-93

which help homeless people with housing and other support services.

Youth homelessness is a priority issue. In 1989 the Commonwealth Government announced the Youth Social Justice Strategy. The Strategy provides an additional $100 million over four years (1989-93) to further assist with accommodation and to help in areas such as family breakdown, income support,

finding work, education, health and access to services.

Youth Social Justice Strategy achievements within the Health, Housing and Community Services portfolio to date include;

. an increase in the number and range of accommodation options for young people . more effective co-ordination between accommodation and other services . improved support for young people moving from short-term crisis services

to more secure medium and long-term accommodation.

Some projects have addressed culturally specific needs of individual groups, in particular young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and young Indo-Chinese people.

An important component of the Youth Social Justice Strategy is the Innovative Health Services for Homeless Youth program, with funding from the Commonwealth of $7 million over four years. This program funds community- based organisations with experience in working with young people to develop and provide imaginative health services for at risk and homeless young people that will involve the young people in caring for their own health.

As well as the Youth Social Justice Strategy initiatives, a new program directed at assisting homeless young people to find jobs was recently announced by the Federal Minister for Aged, Family and Health Services, Mr Peter Staples. Under the Job Placement and Employment Training (JPET) program, the Government

has allocated $10 million over two years to link community-based organisations into help for homeless young people into appropriate employment and training and provide individual support and back-up to help them succeed in their employment and training.

JPET is a pilot program wftich will fund more than 30 services around Australia. The first round of projects will be placed in priority areas which have a high population of homeless young people, where support and accommodation services already exist for young homeless people and where work and training

opportunities can be provided. Employers and business communities in a number of areas have expressed interest in participating in the JPET program.

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The idea of the Info Card came from three Commonwealth Departments: Employment, Education and Training; Health, Housing and Community Services; and Social Security under the banner of the Youth Social Justice Information Steering Committee. It was supported by detailed findings from a comprehensive evaluation into other information products for young people.

One of the major products, the Info Book was found to reach its general target audience, but market research identified two groups of young people who needed more help -- the homeless and those with low literacy skills have different information needs than other young people.

The evaluation was based on market research that involved focus groups with disadvantaged young people and youth workers.

. Most disadvantaged young people need information which helps them address their immediate problems.

. Their need for information is outcomes-oriented. Although services exist in the community to help young people in crisis situations, young people need ready access to information that will help them reach those services.

. When homeless young people seek information, they are seeking solutions to an immediate crisis they face. They are not collectors of information which may be useful at some later date. They might need help to find something to eat, a bed for the night or to have a health or

legal problem sorted out. The immediate problem is the one they focus on. They are not interested in the problems which might face them next week or the week after. For these young people, information is

only of use if it is likely to get a result.

To make information relevant to a particular personal problems, local contacts are needed. Local phone numbers are the key point of "access" to services that can provide or direct a young person to appropriate crisis help. Phone numbers on the card have to be the relevant local numbers so that the young person will feel help is only a phone call away. To make sure these phone numbers are the most relevant for a given area and problem, this information was supplied from local Youth Access Centres.

The research also found that, in seeking information, disadvantaged young people, from whatever cultural background, will tend to first ask someone they know and trust -- a friend, parent, brother or sister, teacher, youth worker or another intermediary. For disadvantaged young people to comprehend written information and to take it away and store it for further use, they often

need to be introduced to it by a person they know and trust and, ideally, to have the information explained to them by that person. Then they will value the information.

Much of the information young people rely on is passed on through the grapevine; peers are a major source of information for disadvantaged young people. In peer groups, young people share information readily and, according to one youth worker interviewed, "They get to know which particular service or worker is good".

In developing the Info Card following the evaluation, DEBT'S Youth Access Centres responded to questionnaires and there were discussions through the networks of DSS and DHHCS. Feedback on the information to be included on the card was aimed at making the card a credible information vehicle to

disadvantaged young people. In particular, YAC staff suggested it would be useful to have places on the card where young people could write their CBS Jobseeker number and other personal details such as names and phone numbers of the local youth worker, social worker, doctor or community health centre worker. This information has been included on a separate Personal

Info Card which fits into the protective wallet.

The Info Card aims to be a vehicle to draw together services from government and non- government sectors, sharing their expertise and services to meet the needs of a common target group.