June 26 - July 2, 2022: Issue 544


StreetWork - Turning Young Lives Around: The Change Your Course Program

Website: www.streetwork.org.au

Facebook: www.facebook.com/streetworkpage
Instagram: instagram.com/streetworkaus
Twitter: twitter.com/StreetWorkEO
YouTube: youtube.com/channel/UCqO9DwP8cnET8rO-nG2JOog

Each year the Rotary Club of Balgowlah recognises people and organisations for their outstanding service to the local community.

In May this year StreetWork Northern Beaches' Youth Services Manager (Thomas Dent) and Northern Beaches' Chairperson (Jane Vincent) were the proud recipients of an award.

The awards were presented by Hon. James Griffin - Member for Manly - and Michael Regan - Mayor at Northern Beaches Council.

''Vibrant and healthy communities are supported by a network of local: not for profits, media, state government and council representatives, schools, clubs, churches, business owners, and residents.'' StreetWork states

StreetWork is a Sydney based, for purpose charity, supporting at-risk young people aged between 11 and 18, to turn their lives around. There are three local Boards focused on the North Shore, Northern Beaches and Hornsby-Ku-ring-gai.

StreetWork provides one-on-one mentoring to at-risk 11-18-year-olds, so that they are supported to break their cycle of destructive influences and behaviours, and turn their lives around.

During the past 12 months alone, the StreetWork team has provided mentoring support to 860 medium to high-risk youth. 

Our unique, early intervention and prevention program, mentors participants to regain self-esteem, build vital skills, and turn their lives around. 

Pride of Workmanship Award: Thomas Dent - StreetWork, pictured here with StreetWork CEO Helen Banu and Sonya Mears


Community Service Award: Jane Vincent - StreetWork (Sonya Mears accepting on behalf of Jane) - StreetWork's Northern Beaches' Chairperson Jane Vincent

StreetWork has been confirmed as the lead agency in a new Federal Government Fund, Safer Communities benefiting vulnerable young people affected by crime. 

The Government's objective for the funding is to preserve the safety of Australians by supporting early intervention and prevention strategies that address criminal behaviours of high-risk youth aged 12-24. 

The programs funded by the Safer Communities Grant support marginalised young people to develop life, educational and vocational skills to prevent them from becoming entrenched in the youth criminal justice system.

At approximately $1,344 per young person per day or $490,560 per year, youth detention centres are costly.  And there is no guarantee youth incarceration prevents ongoing criminal behaviour. 

Increasingly the youth services sector is favouring less damaging responses to youth crime by assessing the drivers - drug and alcohol misuses, school disengagement and problems with home or school life and mental health.   

2021 report on Youth Justice in Australia by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that all governments across Australia agree that effective evidence-based intervention and/or rehabilitation programs are preferable to detention as a solution to reducing youth crime rates.

A June 16 2022 released report by the the Australian Government's Australian Institute of Criminology, 'Adverse childhood experiences and trauma among young people in the youth justice system', examines the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in a representative sample of young people under youth justice supervision in South Australia. The analysis showed that not only was the prevalence of ACEs particularly high in this population (89% experienced a combination of maltreatment and household dysfunction), but so too were trauma symptomatology, substance use, and internalising and externalising behaviours (with more than two-thirds of young people scoring in the clinical ranges on each of these measures). When viewed collectively, the data provides a foundation for understanding and responding to the vulnerabilities of young people in the youth justice system. They suggest that developmentally focused and trauma‑informed approaches may offer the greatest promise in assisting young people and keeping the community safe from crime.

Developing resilience and well-being - the Change Your Course Program

Building a young person's protective factors and supporting them with wrap-around services to navigate them away from criminal activity presents positive outcomes for the young person, their family and society.

"The $1.4 million Federal Government funding to support vulnerable young people impacted by crime and involved with the Youth Justice system or the police is a welcome step forward," said StreetWork's CEO Helen Banu in her announcement concerning the Grant.

"The Grant will assist with 10 youth services operating in Sydney's northern suburbs and parts of South Western Sydney to launch a new program called the Change Your Course Program.

StreetWork, the lead agency behind the program, will support the 120 young people selected to participate in the Change Your Course Program with one-on-one mentoring. Our youth sector partners will also deliver wrap-around services bespoke to the needs and risk factors of each individual - including mental health counselling, family support, education assistance, job readiness, and placement. 

Our project partners include The Northern Centre, The Burdekin Association, Phoenix House, KYDS Youth Development Service Incorporated, Payce Foundation, CCNB, Catholic Care Diocese, Mentoring Men, Youth Up Front, and Huber Social - each offering their unique services to support vulnerable young people.

StreetWork's youth services team will act as the triage point, supporting the Change Your Course participants to identify the goals they need to achieve to address the individual risk factors they face. After the young person sets their goals, their StreetWork youth caseworker will connect them with the appropriate services. 

Together with our service partners, we are building the protective factors around these 120 young people that will develop their life skills and resilience. As a result, they will be less likely to commit a crime.

While juvenile crime represents a substantial proportion of crime in Australia, it's heartening that with the right support, most young offenders 'grow out' of offending in early adulthood. 

Government funding is vital to ensuring that StreetWork and our service partners can continue to provide encouragement and a sense of belonging to vulnerable young people.  They urgently need our support to break free of the risk of criminality and change their life course."  Helen Banu concludes.

StreetWork's Youth Mentoring History

Founded in 1980 by Peter Hobbs, OAM, StreetWork’s early intervention and prevention program has turned young lives around for over 40 years.

Peter's belief that youth mentors should be accessible to young people is still relevant today. Our trained youth case workers meet young people in parks and cafes, outside - in the street – rather than an office. That's why we are called 'StreetWork.'

“When I started StreetWork I witnessed a gap in services to youth-at-risk who, in increasing numbers were ending up homeless, addicted, or committing youth crime and sentenced to time in juvenile detention or in prison.  What was needed was support - on the ground - when young people first showed signs of disconnection” explains Peter.

Forty years after its launch, StreetWork has grown and now serves the Northern Sydney Region. Because community connections are important to our success, StreetWork is supported by local boards with deep links into local businesses, clubs, banks, churches, and volunteers - who care about improving the physical and mental wellbeing of vulnerable young people.      

StreetWork Services

At-risk youth rarely ask for help, so we've developed outreach programs to help us to connect before a crisis occurs.

Should the teen become engaged with the Police or the juvenile justice system, our volunteers reach out to support them through our 24/7 advocacy service. 

Others come to us through referrals from our youth service partners and government agencies, including schools, health, community services, police, and juvenile justice.

We address any immediate issues through crisis management and then help vulnerable young people get their lives back on track through our KickStart Mentoring Program.

Our mentoring is supported by skill building to develop abilities, confidence and relationships.

Aftercare helps teens ease back into their new life after they have graduated from our mentoring program.

Mental Health Services For Young People

Click here to download a list of mental health services that young people can access.

How Can You Help?

StreetWork's results speak for themselves - PwC’s 2020 research confirms that an impressive 90%* of  StreetWork’s program participants graduated and achieved their goals.  

The research also highlighted that for every $1 in sponsorship dollars StreetWork receive there’s a $16 saving to the community

Our goals-based mentoring program and the support we receive from our dedicated supporters and volunteers are critical to our success.

By partnering with StreetWork you are helping us to support vulnerable young people (aged 11 to 18) to learn how to set and achieve goals that will enable them to: re-engage in education, seek employment, navigate difficult relationships and mental health concerns - including suicidal thoughts and self harm - minimise drug/alcohol misuse and confidently live their best life.   

You can be part of the solution via:

Many of the young people who are supported by StreetWork want to obtain part-time or full-time work however they may not be, ‘job ready’.  We are seeking the support of local businesses who are able to patiently train our young people for a few hours a week, so that they become familiar with the responsibilities and expectations of a work place environment.      


  • Local businesses who can offer a few hours work experience
  • Local businesses who understand how to create a supportive environment for at-risk young people
  • Local businesses with entry-level roles suited to preparing a young person for their first steps into a work place environment 


  • Exposure to your work place routines and process offers young people: 
  • The opportunity to access much needed work skills;
  • The ability to overcome the barriers to employment 
  • Improved long term job and socio-economic prospects
  • Connections to proceed to the next stage of employment - a full time role 
  • Ongoing one-on-one support from their Youth Worker to reach their job goals during their employment journey


We are looking for entry level roles in the following industries:

  • Real Estate
  • IT
  • Pet care and Veterinary services
  • Hospitality
  • Fashion
  • Retail
  • Video
  • Social media

StreetWork’s Youth Case Management 

Early intervention and prevention, goal setting and, mentoring are StreetWork’s key focus areas.  However, in order for us to successfully address the damaging influences and risk-taking behaviors impacting our young people’s safety, we also work with external, specialist youth services.    

These services include psychologists specialising in youth mental health and homeless shelters, purpose-built to provide a safe haven from domestic violence.     

StreetWork’s case management approach enables us to build a community of holistic support, to ensure lasting change and, improved life skills.

Streetwork’s Skilled Volunteers

Our deep connections into the communities where we work enable us to draw on a large base of skilled volunteers. 

These volunteers staff our 24/7 police advocacy service, our fundraising events and provide valuable back-office support.

As a result, the lion's share of donations to StreetWork are invested in employing our trained youth case workers - our front-line mentors.   

StreetWork’s Local Community Approach 

StreetWork operates in suburbs where young people gather to socialise. 

Being an active participant in a local community allows us to connect with teens at risk, and our referral sources - the police, youth mental health services, doctors, and teachers. 

Because we are deeply connected to local communities, we are able to put young people in touch with the local services that they need to access -  psychologists, drug and alcohol counsellors, dieticians and, general practitioners.  

SteetWork is funded by local community partners - including businesses, associations, clubs, banks, RSL’s, schools, churches, family foundations, and grants. Our community partners offer StreetWork the valuable funding and the volunteer skills we need to thrive.

Expanding StreetWork’s Reach

StreetWork’s early intervention and prevention program is available to the communities of the North Shore, Lane Cove, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai, the Northern Beaches, and Ryde. 

We have the demand to extend our unique and special model into neighbouring communities - the Hills District and the Central Coast for example.

If you believe you can contribute to bringing StreetWork to your area, please get in touch with our CEO Helen Banu. 

April 29, 2022: StreetWork joined members of the Northern Beaches community and other local not for profits, at Community Capital Foundation's screening of Connecting the Dots.

This award-winning, youth mental health documentary was followed by a panel discussion with StreetWork's Thomas Dent and Headspace's Jimmy Broadbent.

The panel offered the audience their front-line insights and a few valuable tips and hints on opening non-judgmental conversations with young people. One of the take outs: take the time to learn about and show interest in the things your young person cares about. (Might be the perfect excuse to brush up on your Marvel super heroes and villians!)