Youth program targets better futures


A program tailored to help young people find independence after having spent time in care will be expanded to Geelong for delivery by Barwon Child, Youth and Family.

The Victorian Government-backed Barwon Better Futures program will be piloted in the region for 12 months, reaching 49 people aged 16 to 21.

It aims to put young people at the centre of their transition planning, with flexible funding packages and better access to secure housing and employment opportunities.

Tailored support will focus on participant talents and abilities and help enable them to realise dreams.

The State Government will provide more than $420,000 for the Geelong expansion following program pilots in South Gippsland, Melbourne’s Bayside Peninsula and South Melbourne.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence developed the model, tools and resources.

The State Government says the program supports its landmark $168 million Roadmap for Reform Budget allocation aiming to shift the focus of the children and family services system from responding to crises to prevention and early intervention.

Victorian Families and Children’s Minister Jenny Mikakos said Barwon Better Futures had much to offer.

“This program has already helped young people in other parts of Victoria transition from care and gain independence , so we’re expanding it,” Ms Mikakos said.

“We’re ensuring vulnerable young people in Geelong who are leaving care are given every chance to build their lives and make a positive contribution to their local community.”

Barwon Child, Youth and Family client services executive director Max Broadley said the program would expand horizons.

“The pilot will encourage young people to explore their interests and capabilities, strengthen connections in their professional and social relationships and learn how to actively shape their future,” Mr Broadley said.

In a separate announcement, Ms Mikakos said the State Government would spend $1.1 million to enable Aboriginal community-controlled organisations to case manage 120 Aboriginal children now living in kinship care.

The government is working towards transferring care of Aboriginal children who have been placed in out-of-home arrangements by the Department of Health and Human Services and non-Aboriginal agencies, to Aboriginal organisations.

Those organisations will be responsible for implementing case plans, working with children and families.

“We know how important connection to culture is and we are making sure that these organisations ensure children remain healthy, safe and connected to their land and culture,” Ms Mikakos said.

Sources: State Government media releases.