The WA government have announced a $250,000 grant as part of their youth engagement scheme, to help at-risk youth better connect with their community.
Local governments and not-for-profit organisations are now able to apply for the grant to set-up projects using sport and recreation to target disengaged youth aged between eight and 18 living in lower socio-economic areas within metropolitan Perth and regional WA.
St Vincent De Paul’s Homeless Services WA State Manager Gayle Mitchell said young people who have come from domestic violence, poverty, or have been brought up by caregivers who don’t set a good example are more likely to exhibit at-risk behaviors.
“Those types of people are just as important as what we call ‘normal’ young people in our society,” she said.
“Because these are our young people and if we don’t start to gather all our young people up and give them equal rights and equal opportunities in jobs and training, then there’s going to be a lot more issues going into adulthood around justice systems and things like that.”
Programs are set to be delivered in safe environments, with experienced mentors and leaders. they will offer volunteer and leadership opportunities to increase capability, build resilience and sustainability.
WA Youth Minister Peter Tinley said he recognises sport plays a major part in getting young people active.
“As a dad of four, I am acutely aware of how sport teaches young people to sacrifice their own ambition for the collective goals of the team,” he said.
“I recognise how sport… develops emotional and social resilience as well as self-esteem and confidence – important life skills for all young people.”
WA Sport and Recreation Minister Mick Murray said this scheme is a great way for young people to connect with their community and for a community to connect with its young people.
“Past Youth Engagement Scheme programs have done a great job of joining the two and because these projects can be delivered in metropolitan Perth and regional areas, more young people are able to benefit,” he said.
Ms Mitchell said at-risk youth is quite a complex group of people, who come from different backgrounds and traumas, however it’s important to engage them in activities for building capacity, self-esteem and confidence.
“Any sport and rec activities are fabulous,” she said.
“So, with young people who have been at-risk or in our area we deal a lot with homeless young people, they’ve never been given the opportunity to be part of a team, or work together with other young people, or given those opportunities to learn new skills and to be able to make new friendship groups.”
Applications close on October 16 and the government anticipates successful programs will be up and running in early 2018.