YMCA WA Quarterly Newsletter: July 2017
At the half way point of the calendar year and the end of the financial year, I’d like to take the time to talk about a few key things.
For starters, through a huge amount of hard work as always, we are continually kicking goals and I’m so proud to see this. We’ve started a new YTime program out of Withers, we’ve held Training and Mirnutharntu Maya stalls at expos, we welcomed a new General Manager to the team to look after the Pilbara region, Brittany Cover, we opened four new OSHC services (Carnaby Rise, Alkimos Beach, Baldivis Gardens and Woodland Grove), our Early Years’ Specialist Shae Welch launched our new Approach to Learning manuals – just to name a few. It’s so rewarding to see all of the fantastic work we’re investing in the community come to life, and for that I hope you’re all really proud. We’re continuing to expand our diverse service offering and build on our personalised connection with the community which is absolutely wonderful to see.
Secondly and equally as importantly, we have shown Australia what we believe in and stand for by launching our new national “Why Not?” campaign. Why Not? launched on Tuesday 20th June on The Today Show through Boy George singing his own rendition of the Village People’s song YMCA. Why Not? is something I’m really proud of. As an organisation that believes in the power of inspired young people, I’m thrilled that this campaign provides a platform for young people’s voices to be heard on all burning issues, with a particular focus on marriage equality, mental health and youth unemployment. Careful and detailed research indicated these three issues are of the greatest concern to our young people, and by supporting them to have their voices heard we’re contributing to a really positive movement.
It’s been really encouraging to see the support from all of our services on the Why Not? campaign, whether it be through banners on display, posters throughout services, blog posts written by our young people or t-shirts being worn by staff. As encouraging has been the Western Australian community who have been supporting our campaign through engaging with our social media pages, visiting our whynot.org.au website and chatting to our staff about the campaign across the State. Thank you all for your incredible support on this movement, I’m really excited to be on this journey with you all as we champion the voices of young people to be heard.
Ross Kyrwood, CEO
Every year YMCAs from 119 countries take part in the World Challenge which commemorates YMCA’s birthday, and this year we celebrated with two events to mark the big 175 milestone.
This year’s theme aimed to empower young people through basketball, so through the City of Belmont’s partnership with YMCA WA, The Base @ Belmont had their young people do battle in a basketball game with each team coached by a Wildcats player.
Reigning NBL Champions Angus Brandt and Dexter Kernich-Drew were on hand to teach the young people all of the tips and tricks on ball handling, teamwork and leadership.
“Seeing the Wildcats was the best bit because I’d never seen them before and my favourite player Dexter was there, I got to be on his team!” 12-year-old Josh said.
Youth Worker and event organiser Amanda Hodkin described the young people’s reaction to seeing the Wildcats arrive as ‘so rewarding’, citing it as a rare opportunity.
“The atmosphere on Friday was electric, with both staff and young people super excited about the game. It was incredible to watch the young people take on leadership roles within their teams,” Amanda said.
Every young person received a basketball at the end of the event for taking part, which they had signed by the Wildcats, and the grand final winners also received Kmart gift vouchers and a gold medal.
Meanwhile later that evening, YMCA WA’s Mike Barnett Sports Complex partnered with the Rockingham Flames to put on a three-point shootout competition.
The competition took place in the break between the women’s and men’s fixtures and was a little short-lived but was thoroughly enjoyed by the staff and young people involved.
“It was a really fun night and it was really great the kids were so excited, we could’ve used a bit more time for the challenge but I was really happy with how it went,” Centre Coordinator Tia Sandhu said.
Tia added: “From our staff point of view the World Challenge really brought us all together, we had heaps of staff come down to watch and we were offered a spot in the President’s box so we were all able to enjoy the night in there.”
All of the young people who took part received a World Challenge pack which included a basketball, a shirt and a towel, as well as also receiving movie tickets from the Flames.
To some, Amber Lee is our Family Support Manager. To others Amber wears the title of Swim for Life Manager, or Acting General Manager of Metro or of South West. But before any of these titles, Amber almost found herself as a Gig Space Coordinator.
“I’ve always worked in the family and children space – I started in that industry when I was about 15 years old, I’d been a director at an ELC for 8-10 years and I was looking for a bit of a change,” Amber explained.
“A job came up at YMCA HQ for the Gig Space Coordinator and for some reason I applied for it – I’ve never done anything like that before, never even worked with youth!
“I got an interview and I remember as I was talking, the two people interviewing me were sort of looking at each other and nodding so I thought I was doing okay, until they stopped me half way through and said ‘why are you applying for this job?!” Amber laughed.
The interviewers informed Amber there was an opening that day for the Pedagogical Support Specialist role, which they politely pointed out might better suit her impressive portfolio.
“I walked back to the car and called my husband and said; ‘Okay I don’t think I got that job but I think I just got a different job!’” Amber laughed.
In the Pedagogical Support Specialist role, Amber made the YMCA Approach to Learning document come to life within our Early Learning Centres, Outside School Hours Care centres and Family Day Care, until the role was made redundant in the 2015 restructure.
“Again it was one of those situations where opportunity came my way to apply for the Family Support Manager, I’d worked pretty closely with the previous manager and I thought there was some really nice symmetries between the work I’d done and moving into the family space,” Amber said.
Now in her fifth year with the Y, it’s the last two years in particular that have expanded Amber’s knowledge base and opportunities, stepping in to any roles she’s asked to.
“I’m really thankful to have been given those opportunities, stepping into Jurek’s role in January and Brooke’s too, it’s a big compliment to think that Jennie Burns has the trust in me and supports me in doing that,” Amber said.
Amber has the juggle down to a fine art; how to take on new roles while not letting it come at a cost of the time her existing services receive from her, while handing over to backfill her regular role.
“I’ve got a lot to learn but I think it’s always about trying to prioritise. I think a good leader and a good manager understands everyone to them is a priority, and doesn’t necessarily try to jump to the ‘biggest’ project that needs more time, but understands that everything is just as important in their own worlds as our biggest projects are,” Amber said.
Amber’s dedication, her ‘never say die’ attitude and her infectious personality make her a highly regarded member of our workplace and an asset to the Y.
It’s not often you’d use the word ‘veteran’ and 19-year-old in the same context, but Aiden Foster defies what ‘should’ be done by anyone at his age.
Introduced to YMCA Serpentine Jarrahdale’s Dance Inspire program by Aimee Morton, Aiden came on board as an instructor at the beginning of term one this year after returning from abroad.
“At the end of last year I returned from studying in Europe and dancing all around the place, touring and travelling, so I’ve been teaching all year for the YMCA,” Aiden said.
Before leaving for Europe, Aiden was a finalist in the Sydney Opera House for the McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships and in Switzerland Aiden performed in the Prix de Lausanne – the most world renowned competition for ballet that has an intake of only 70 dancers.
So what could upstage those incredible opportunities? Aiden’s desire to give back to the dance community.
“I wanted to be back at home and really teach the students at the YMCA and give back what I’ve taken from my experiences,” Aiden said.
“I feel like there’s no point in going and getting all this experience if I’m not going to give it back to people.”
Aiden teaches three classes on a Wednesday night; a ballet class, a contemporary class and a skills class, with his students ranging from 5-year-olds to 12-year-olds.
“It’s just really enjoyable for me, teaching is something I want to keep learning more about and how to work with kids in different ways. Hopefully eventually I’ll be able to even own my own studio at a different YMCA, to open up more opportunities to myself through the YMCA,” Aiden said.
Aiden’s achievements are extremely impressive for his age without considering the hardships he’s already had to face, losing his Dad just before he went to Europe.
“I didn’t pursuit my ballet more is because my father passed away just before I moved overseas so I just wanted to be at home with my family.”
Aiden added: “Dance is definitely my escape from my problems and worries in life, I’ve always been that way and I like to focus all of my attention on beautiful things whether that be a piece of art or making up a dance – I think dancing is just my calling in life really!”
“It’s such a good feeling to see the kids smiling after I’ve taught them - I can see they find an escape in dancing so I feel like I’m giving them opportunities to express themselves in different ways, it’s just really rewarding,” Aiden said.
Aiden is a fantastic example of why we believe in the power of inspired young people, and we’re thrilled to have him on board at YMCA WA.
YMCA’s youth-run and led Youth Parliament program provides young people with opportunities to develop their leadership skills and learn about the political process in a forum like no other, and this year’s experience is currently underway.
The dedicated team of youth leaders have been working busily behind the scenes to prepare for this year’s program, taking place from July 2nd - 7th at Point Walter Recreation and Conference Centre and Parliament House.
With the 59 participants ranging from 15-year-olds through to 24-year-olds, Youth Parliament Project Coordinator Josh Cahill believes the diverse group will gain a lot from the experience.
“What we really want to make sure participants take out of Youth Parliament is the opportunity to learn leadership skills and really be able to take that back to their local community,” Josh said.
“While obviously it’s really fun and enjoyable to be a part of, we’re really focused on making sure people take all of the things they learn and all of the experiences they have back to their schools or local communities and really upskill everyone else around them.”
The camp has three focal areas; the obvious one being the parliamentary experience, with the others being leadership development and the development of strong, supportive peer networks that occur through connecting like-minded young people.
“We have the stuff that happens in Parliament but we also have a recreational aspect where the young people do a lot of professional development, they get to meet a few speakers on youth issues and they get to do a lot of bonding because a lot of them are from various different parts of Western Australia,” Josh said.
“We try to get as much outreach as possible, but we also have a wide variety of age groups and experiences which means that a lot of that has a nice melting pot feel for the recreational aspect.”
After careful consideration and research, this year the bills presented before parliament were; Foster Care Reform Bill 2017, Indigenous Business and Economic Participation Bill 2017, Public School Funding and Redistribution Bill 2017, Online Sexual Harassment and Cyber Security Bill 2017, The Plastic Bag Eradication Bill 2017, Youth Affordability and Employment Bill 2017, Social Equity Reform Bill 2017, Youth Mental Health De-Stigmatisation Bill 2017.
Youth Parliament is generously funded by the Department of Local Government and Community Services, YMCA WA and local community members and members of parliament through their sponsorships of individual participants.
Being a 17-year-old from Tkalka Boorda community in South Hedland with a family background crippled by drugs and alcohol, isn’t without its hardships.
But for Jordan* it was all he’d ever known - until three months ago.
Found guilty of a driving charge, Jordan was summoned to the care of Juvenile Justice, while his three-year-old son remained in the hands of the Department for Child Protection.
Sadly Jordan was no stranger to smoking, drugs and shoplifting to cope with the situation he was in, but that was all about to change.
Jordan’s Juvenile Justice officer suggested he apply to stay at Mirnutharntu Maya; a safe, supportive accommodation provided by YMCA WA for individuals engaged in training.
“At the end of last year I just snapped out of my ways and thought ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’,” Jordan said.
“At Mirnutharntu Maya I’ve got my own place now and it’s great – it’s something I’ve never had.”
With the guidance of Residential Support Manager Gabrielle Marks, Jordan got set up with a room, a dedicated mentor, he enrolled in his Cert II in Automotive Vocational Preparation at TAFE two days a week and he’s now working three days a week.
“Jordan has taken a Trades Assistant job with TLC Contracting - they’re trialling him for three months and he’s doing really well – then they’re looking at putting him into a mechanics apprenticeship,” Gabrielle said.
“It’s only been the last month he’s been working, so to actually get his first pay was obviously so exciting for him and such a great step.”
Since moving into the facility in March, Jordan has completed his First Aid certificate, and YMCA’s Swim for Life program which has seen him obtain his Bronze Medallion and finish the Pool Lifeguarding course. Jordan is also currently completing the final hours in his L-plate driving training through Keys for Life and has started mentoring some school kids.
“The support we offer can be anything from the work we’re doing with the Department of Child Protection around his child, or it can be the minor behaviour modelling like work ethic that people have at home and see normally but the kids from these environments don’t actually have that,” Gabrielle said.
“Mirnutharntu Maya has put me in a really good position and it’s been life-changing,” Jordan said.
Jordan’s goals include inspiring his friends to join him on a better path and entering the ABC’s Heywire Competition which would see him share his story to youth in Canberra. However above all, Jordan wants to secure stable employment to gain custody of his son and be able to provide for him.
*Name changed for privacy reasons
YMCA WA’s Evaluation and Research Specialist Richard Dale is in the process of implementing outcomes measurement at our services to assist with optimising our service delivery experience and impact.
A case study example of the valuable work Ric does can be found below.
The Base@Belmont is a six day per week service, providing recreational and educational opportunities for a diverse range of young people in response to their needs. The service includes drop-in activities, regular weekly programs and workshops, engagement with Belmont City College, outings, events, and school holiday activities.
At The Base the young people are surveyed at the end of every term, being asked three questions;
- Do you feel safe at the centre?
- What have you learnt this term? (e.g. art, recreation, social interaction, conflict resolution)
- Are you happy with what you can do at the centre?
In response to the four questions, the young people are given four options;
The results are based solely on the responses given by the young people which is transformed in to data, not based on observation.
Youth Service Coordinator Laura Dunlop says the surveys have provided extremely worthwhile feedback.
“We’re finding the outcomes measurement very beneficial because it’s helping us to track where the young people are at from their perspective, as well as the impact we’re having,” Laura said.
“All of the work we do at The Base is intentional so it’s really good to see that the outcomes reflect that.”
The Base will soon increase the regularity of the surveying from once a term to three times per term (in week three, week six and week nine), to ensure the most accurate results are being taken by having a larger sample size to work with.
(Please note as stated below; 26 young people were surveyed to conduct this report. The dotted blue line is our expectation if we continue as we are, the green line is what we expect to happen as a result of the actions for the next quarter.)
Click here to view the report
The Martu community in Newman is a beautiful, gentle group. There are some young people who are attending school really regularly and loving the opportunity to go, but there are also some challenges. One being, their mobility.
“The Martu community in particular are very mobile- they move in and out from communities and all of those things impact on the kids’ lives because they go where the parents go,” Newman Manager of Youth Services Jackie Bickendorf said.
Enter the Remote School Attendance Strategy (RSAS), a Federal Government Program funded by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet currently helping 43 students in Newman.
“Kids are fairly resilient but they’re not equipped to deal with the transience and mobility of the mob, and that’s a hard thing.
“It makes it hard to get them to school when they say ‘what for?’ - there are too many other things that impact their lives,” Jackie said.
The strategy targets young people with attendance rates between 60-80% and intends to increase this rate by supporting them to attend school every possible day, while addressing issues that reduce attendance rates in each community.
“Our staff are visiting homes, seeing the parents and carers every day when they pick up the kids, if the kids don’t attend school our staff talk to the parents / carers and work out what’s going on in the house and what support we can lend,” Jackie said.
The daily contact between YMCA staff and the families helps to narrow down any problems causing young people to not want to go to school, whether it be not having a uniform and feeling ashamed for not being dressed properly, or something a lot more complicated.
The 30 primary school students and 13 high school students who are currently working with the three full-time staff on the strategy are enjoying getting their attendance up while also having a bit of fun.
“Last holidays we ran some futsal sessions, we had a few sessions with EPIC, we took a bunch of kids out to Sandy Creek for a day’s outing with Save the Children and some parents for a BBQ, a fire, and damper cooking which was fantastic,” Jackie said.
“The RSAS gives them an opportunity to go and be engaged at school which is a very good thing,” Jackie said.
From the first week of April to June 30th YMCAs around Australia teamed up with the Federal Government’s Girls Make Your Move initiative to offer 12-19 year old girls around the country a 30-day free access pass to participating YMCA centres.
YMCA WA was proud to be involved in the nationwide initiative, with girls able to capitalise on the offer at Narrogin Regional Leisure Centre, Mike Barnett Sports Complex, Warnbro Community Y, Serpentine Jarrahdale Community Recreation Centre, Port Hedland Leisure Centre and Morley Sport and Recreation Centre.
“We’re really proud to have taken part in this initiative that focuses on helping young girls become happier and healthier through physical activity,” General Manager Perth Metro Region Brooke Draper said.
“We see this as a fantastic opportunity for young girls to become more involved in their local community while taking part in exercise without any restrictions like costs, so we really encouraged anyone to join in and get the most out of it that they could.”
The range of health and wellness centres around the state extended a variety of different free offers for young people, including basketball shooting passes, group fitness classes, health club access, ‘Teen Fit’ gym usage, ‘Young Gunz’ group personal training classes and more.
Coordinated by the Federal Department of Health, Girls Make Your Move is inspired by Sport England’s successful ‘This Girl Can’ initiative, which has already encouraged nearly 3 million young women in the UK to be more active.
To see a snapshot of the fun-filled adventures girls all around the country undertook throughout the move, visit the hashtag #girlsmakeyourmove on Instagram or Facebook.
YTime is a service delivery model that assists young people who are at risk or showing signs of being at risk between the ages of 12 to 18 years of age.
YTime was created by YMCA WA to provide opportunities for young people to engage positively, to identify needs in the community and provide a soft entry point for young people to access other services as required.
YMCA WA is proud to introduce YTime to the Withers community; the program commenced a mere six weeks ago and has already taken off in a really positive direction.
Y-Time is available to young people in Withers between the ages of 12 to 24, as the young people of Withers have been identified as some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the state.
“We run the program on Thursday and Friday afternoons from 3:30pm, we meet at the Withers library and we take the young people to the skate park or the park for some afternoon tea and a skate, a game of soccer, football or basketball,” Youth Engagement Office Dylan Tomlinson said.
This week for NAIDOC week the young people have been able to paint their own skateboards, which was a nice alternative to the regular sports-based program that the young people prefer.
“The most successful activities so far have been skate lesson and clinics put on at the Bunbury Skate Park and Des Ugle Park,” General Manager of South West Jurek Stopczynski said.
Jurek added: “Young people attending have been very open with our Youth Engagement Officers in a very short time frame with consistent themes emerging being ‘not having anything to do’. The young people have outlined that they like the program as it gives them something to look forward to.”
With cost being identified as a significant barrier in the Withers Community, all events are free as part of the program, which is made possible by the City of Bunbury, and by Beyond Skate, FiveFoot4 and Fitzroy Cycles for donating items to the program.
With the program already nearing on full, the goal is to expand the capacity while expanding the offerings available.
“As we get to know the young people we’re going to start to work on themselves and the way they act / speak, but our main goal first is to get to know them and earn trust before we get to that stage,” Dylan said.