Coping with life’s ups and downs

UnitingCare Goulburn North East has developed an innovative program designed to assist youth in regional areas.

The Myrollercoaster program is largely funded by Share and operates in North East Victoria and the border area. It combines online and face-to-face services to help young people interact with their communities.

CEO at UnitingCare Goulburn North East, Kevin Klose, said many rural localities had high levels of socio-economic disadvantage. The majority of the youth population were either under-engaged or disengaged in the world around them.

“This can include young people who are under-employed or unemployed; or not participating in any civic or community based activity.

“Within these communities are particular sub-groups that are more extremely socially excluded, such as young people with disabilities, or young people who have responsibilities caring for a family member, or young isolated men,” Mr Klose said.

Deputy CEO Elizabeth Chapman said the program was developed by speaking with young people and exploring their needs.

“The program was really born out of our learning that young people do want to be engaged but services generally aren’t set up to enable that engagement and that is where this program is headed.

“We have worked very strongly with all the different agencies – such as schools and service providers – in our region that provide services to young people.

“They are the ones that are largely in contact with young people on a day-to-day basis and families and communities generally.”

Ms Chapman gave an example of one young woman who has received assistance and ongoing support through the program.

“A teenage daughter of a person with a severe mental illness was having difficulty coping with the level of family disruption. “She was a good student but she hadn’t been able to keep up with her school work.

“She was showing signs of real isolation and showing all the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

“Our counsellor met with her and introduced her to the Myrollercoaster website and she decided she wanted face-to-face grief and loss counselling. That has been ongoing since that time.

“We deliver the counselling sessions with her at her school which means she is in a familiar environment, she’s got the support and knowledge that comes from all the different information on the website plus, in her case, she’s having active counselling provided by us as well,” Ms Chapman said.

Mr Klose said the program was in line with the UnitingCare Goulburn North East mission and vision and enabled independent meaningful lives for young people in the community.

“This work wouldn’t happen without philanthropy, without people prepared to give to Share and trust in young people.

“The Share donors have shown a great deal of faith in us and we take it very seriously.”

By Chip Henriss

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