Local Reconnect program receives funding to deliver services for disadvantaged youth

Sharon Bird, Member for Cunningham and Stephen Jones, Member for Throsby are pleased to announce the funding of $504,383 to Southern Youth and Family Services (SYFS) for their RAFT Reconnect program in the Illawarra.

The Resourcing Adolescents and Families Team (RAFT) provides assistance to Illawarra and Shoalhaven youth aged 12-17 who are at risk of leaving home or have been out of home for up to six weeks. The program is part of SYFS’ commitment to helping vulnerable, disadvantaged or homeless youth and their families. RAFT’s particular focus is on early intervention in order to maintain or restore family relationships.

Community services include conflict resolution, mediation, family and individual counselling, case management, advocacy and brokerage. The funding from the Gillard Government will assist the local organisation in improving the living conditions for disadvantaged and homeless youth.

“The funding for the RAFT Reconnect service will help relieve the struggles of vulnerable young people and their families,” Ms Bird said.

The organisation has received widespread acclaim for their work with homeless people and was named the Illawarra Community Business of the Year in 2011. At the National Homelessness Services Achievement Awards in Canberra last month, the organisation won in the Excellence in Supporting Pathways to Employment or Education category.

Stephen Jones also welcomed this funding. “SYFS does an amazing job getting our young people back on the right track in life and I know that every dollar provided to them makes a huge difference to their work in an area of high need,” he said.

Eleonore Johansson, General Manager of Southern Youth and Family services said, “SYFS welcomes the extension of funding for the valuable early intervention service RAFT.  This service is an essential component of our region’s strategies to reduce youth homelessness.    

“We thank the Australian Government for recognising the value of this service and extending the funding for another year.”

This May, the Gillard Government is holding a National Good Practice Forum for all Reconnect service providers to improve the effectiveness of early interventions for young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“Early intervention is vital to ensure the welfare of disadvantaged children and prevent homelessness,” Ms Bird said.