For young people in Devonport and Burnie, Tasmania, there’s not a lot to do. High youth unemployment and a lack of structured activities has meant teenagers living in these areas are largely left to their own devices.
Youth, Family and Community Connections
Jan 2019 - July 2021
Youth, Family and Community Connections Inc. is a not for profit, community organisation that provides a range of services to young people, families and individuals in communities across the North West Coast and West Coast of Tasmania.
In the 12 months to May 2020, north west Tasmania experienced an average youth unemployment rate of 11.7% for the 15-24 years age group.1 Intergenerational unemployment, poverty and welfare dependency are also significant issues.
Lack of services and job prospects often coupled with problems at school or home can leave teenagers feeling isolated and despondent. This gap in youth services is what led YFCC to create the ARVOs Program, a weekly after-school program for disadvantaged youths living in and around Devonport and Burnie.
Building confidence, resilience and social connections is what the ARVOs Program is all about. Established in 2015, the program promotes social engagement and provides a space where young people can feel safe and supported.
A range of activities and excursions are offered, including craft and woodwork, cooking, games days and special events. Guest speakers are also regularly featured, discussing varied topics from self-care and confidence to local artists and music.
A key component of ARVOs is to build rapport and positive relationships between the social workers who run the program and its participants. This puts the social workers in a position where they can offer assistance and referrals to other services if they recognise the need.
Many participants have disadvantaged backgrounds often involving violence, poverty and drug or alcohol issues. Sometimes just knowing they have someone to talk to is enough to make a difference for them.
While some social distancing measures are still in place, YFCC has transitioned the ARVOs Program to be temporarily delivered in an online format. Thereby continuing to provide a supportive environment for youth, giving them a place to hang out, grow and connect – all while helping them learn the importance of staying safe online.
We look forward to seeing these sessions resuming in person again soon.
1 Source: Labour Market Information Portal, Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment. ABS Labour Force Regions – SA4 Data, West and North West - Summary Data, viewed 30 June 2020