One in eleven young people in Australia are not in education or work. Wesley Mission supports young people facing bullying, violence, alcohol and drug use, homelessness and other difficulties, to build skills for life and access practical support. We help them reconnect with their family, connect with support services and learn to value themselves so they can believe in, and work towards, a stronger future.
Strengthening the lives of young people leaving foster care
The journey from childhood to adulthood and independence is a challenging transition for anyone but even more so for young adults leaving foster care.
In 2017/18 Property Industry Foundation (PIF) and Lendlease gifted $800,000 to renovate two
Wesley Mission properties in North–Western Sydney to provide safe accommodation for young people aged 15 to 25 who are transitioning out of the foster care system.
Named ‘Wesley KickStart’, the two homes are now operational and currently house 12 young people who have left foster care, under the supervision of two house parents. Over the next few years we’ll increase the number of young people living in these homes up to 22.
Wesley KickStart forms part of the broader Wesley Take Charge of Your Life program, which assists young people leaving foster care to find a home and develop the necessary life skills to live independently. The young people living in the Wesley KickStart homes will also receive ongoing case management as they study, search for employment and develop life skills to work towards independent living.
PIF has committed a further $300,000 per year for four years to maintain the Wesley KickStart homes.
Expanding group homes for young people and young adults with disability
No matter life’s challenges, we’re here to help our clients thrive. In 2017/18, we successfully opened a group home in western Sydney to cater for young people under the age of 18. This home met a critical need for these clients who are too young to live in an adult disability group home but can no longer be supported at home with their families.
This year saw the opening of another group home in Sydney’s Inner West to support young adults, offering a new opportunity for our clients to live with their similarly aged peers.
Wesley Disability Services offers 24/7 care within these homes, putting in place tailored supports to help these young people and young adults achieve the goals they have for their lives. On a day-to-day basis we support these clients with self–care, relationship building, and activities to build their confidence, independence and overall wellbeing.
Helping young people achieve their career goals
We believe education is a powerful tool which can help young people reach their potential and achieve their life goals. Each year, the Wesley Dalmar Scholarship financially supports young people with tertiary education.
In 2018/19, five Wesley Dalmar Scholarships were awarded to students who receive foster care through Wesley Mission. Two recipients are completing university courses: Bachelor of Psychology and a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts. Three students are studying courses at TAFE: Commerce, Community Services and Animal Studies.
Scholarship funds not only cover the cost of course fees but educational and living expenses including text books, travel expenses and rent.
Since its inception, 22 scholarships have been awarded with one completed, three recipients nearing the end their courses and another three who are two–thirds of the way through their courses.
One of the first recipients who completed a course in Graphic Design successfully found employment in her chosen field. Another student who has almost finished their apprenticeship, has started working as a sole trader. Another has just completed her first social work placement.
Through Wesley Take Charge of Your Life, a program which supports young people aged 15 to 25 as they transition from out–of–home–care to living independently, we’re also supporting students with developing necessary life skills. Many scholarship recipients have learnt how to juggle study, work and day–to–day living through the program.
Mapping out meaningful careers for our clients
Here at Wesley Mission we walk alongside people to help them achieve their goals. The NSW Government offered us funding to run Career Pathways, a 12–month pilot program which offered our clients receiving housing assistance, a pathway to the workforce. We helped 109 people achieve their career goals throughout the pilot.
The success of the Career Pathways pilot paved the way for the launch of Opportunity Pathways in 2018/19. For 12 months, our clients who receive social housing assistance can access education, training and practical support to build confidence and independence in the workforce and ultimately achieve their housing and career goals.
They have access to coaching and mentoring, workshops, work experience placements, volunteer opportunities and work retention support.
We also offer practical and financial assistance for transport, childcare and other costs to support those on their journey to achieving their career goals.
Opportunity Pathways has 18 staff now operating in Illawarra Shoalhaven, Mid–North Coast and Hunter and Central Coast regions.
Brightening futures with laughter
Partnering with the Humour Foundation, elder clowns have brought joy into the lives of residents from Wesley Retirement Villages. For residents who are diagnosed with dementia or don’t have regular outside visitors, the elder clowns connect with residents through song and magic tricks to lift their mental health. The success of the program has seen non–responsive residents crack a smile or burst into laughter.
Partially funded by Rotary Club of Sydney, we also partnered with the Humour Foundation to produce three short video clips to talk about mental health, tackle cyberbullying and teach online safety practices to young people aged five to 11. Using entertaining clown doctors, the videos implement humour to open up conversations around understanding emotions and developing resilience when using the internet and sending text messages. The educational videos were shown throughout Wesley Out of School Hours, before and after school and vacation care centres and Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Networks.
Integrated support for Bowraville community
We endeavour to meet the totality of an individual’s needs and we achieve this through integrated support. In August 2018, we brought together two key community services under one roof in Bowraville: Wesley Youth Accommodation and Wesley ParentsNext. By joining together, this allows participants in each program to access other Wesley Mission services to support all their needs.
Wesley Youth Accommodation has been operating in the Coffs Harbour/Bellingen/Nambucca Valley area for over four years now and for two years in Bowraville. We’ve supported more than 100 young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness over the past year.
Wesley ParentsNext equips parents for future employment by the time their youngest child goes to school. So far referrals have come from Bowraville, Barraganyatti, Macksville and Talarm. The program operates from Bowraville two days per week making it accessible to parents living in Nambucca Valley and surrounding areas.
Giving children and young people a voice
All children and young people have a right to feel and be safe and we all have a responsibility to do the best we can to ensure that safety. As an organisation with more than 120 years’ experience in every aspect of child and family care, Wesley Mission takes this responsibility seriously.
Our child safety report presents findings of a survey completed by children and young people across Wesley Mission programs. The responses to the survey demonstrate that, overall, children and young people in our services have positive perceptions of their safety at Wesley Mission. The findings also indicate there is room for improvement, and in this report, we’ve listed recommendations for how we can help children and young people feel safe and have more confidence in our staff to assist them in unsafe situations.
This report is the first in an ongoing exercise to monitor child safety in Wesley Mission’s programs and identify areas for improvement.
Increased support for young people with multiple needs
In 2019/20, we’re launching a new program to deliver intensive therapy care that will provide tailored accommodation to young people living in out–of–home care who are also living with disability.
Drawing on the expertise and capabilities of both Wesley Dalmar and Wesley Disability Services, we’re aiming to provide more support to young people by establishing Wesley Mission houses designed to deliver support that caters for individual needs.
We’ve launched a new research project with Melbourne University to evaluate Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Networks and the results will be released in the 2019/20 financial year.
Affordable housing to contribute to community in Sydney’s Inner West
The proposed works to upgrade Wesley RJ Williams in Glebe will provide a new generation of affordable living in Sydney’s Inner West. The plans for a totally refurbished building will create a community atmosphere with comfortable, self–contained living spaces to support low to moderate income earners with accommodation to help secure their future.
We wish to express our gratitude to the Trifalga Property Group who have made a magnificent contribution to this project, partnering with Wesley Mission to unlock the potential in this property for the local community.