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Youth Projects welcomes the Victorian Government’s announcement to hold a Royal Commission into Mental Health.

Over 55% of young people aged 15 – 21 accessing Youth Projects services have a mental health condition that can be easily treated with early intervention and support. Silos in funding and service delivery are weakening the overall effectiveness of mental health support in its current state.

Patchy funding, arcane eligibility criteria and wait lists are making an already tumultuous time even more difficult for people experiencing a serious mental health condition and few services in Victoria manage to deliver comprehensive and timely support.

A whole of government, whole of community approach is what Victoria needs. We must understand that;

  • Young people need more tailored, youth-specific services that will help destigmatise help seeking behaviour and improve engagement into treatment.
  • Mental health first aid needs to be introduced as a valued component of education for primary and secondary schools in Victoria.
  • Young people with high risk factors for mental illness are often early school leavers who need community-based, youth-friendly access to care.
  • Homelessness is a risk factor for developing mental illness and mental illness is a risk factor for becoming homeless.
  • Services should be better co-ordinated and genuine wrap-around models of care to effectively address co-occurring problems for young people – those such as substance misuse, unemployment, exposure to family violence, insecure housing and educational advancement.
  • Parents, friends, and those in the frontline such as GPs feel frustrated, unsupported and lost in a system of confusing cross referral and inaction in times of mental health crisis
  • Improved resources for prevention and crisis support.
  • Prevention and crisis support services need to be complimentary, not competitive for funding.

Reducing proven risk factors such as social isolation, chronic illness, homelessness and poverty are elements of the systemic change needed to improve mental health in our community. Prevention and crisis support services need to be complimentary, not competitive for funding.

Youth Projects is calling for bipartisan support to address an issue that affects all Victorians, directly or indirectly, every day of the year. Mental health counselling is not an expense; it is a long-term investment in community wellbeing.

Talk to your local Member of Parliament, or running candidates, in the lead up to this year’s state election.

A collective response to drug overdose remembrance, advocacy and action at Youth Projects.

IOAD 2018 Flyer

In response to Victoria’s escalating drug overdose burden, Youth Projects are marking International Overdose Awareness Day 2018 at Hosier Lane on Friday 31 August. Youth Projects will be hosting a free community event to commemorate lives lost to overdose, empower community members with the capacity to respond to overdose and to promote the awareness and advocacy necessary to enact change.

Starting at 11:30 am, a mural and commemorative space will be carved out on Hosier Lane which the public are invited to attach messages of remembrance and celebration of lives lost. The opportunity will exist for further conservation and referral to appropriate counselling services for people who experience strong feelings and/or memories as a result of the remembrance ceremony.

Following speeches from guest speakers, Youth Projects will be hosting a group overdose response (naloxone) training session with those present being invited to partake in the 15-minute training session, where they will be taught how to effectively identify and respond to opioid overdose. The first 30 participants will receive a free naloxone kit.

Recognizing that overdose is a community issue that demands a collective response, we encourage attendance by all members of the community. Through collaborative action can we begin to inspire and facilitate more compassionate and effective means of addressing drug overdose.

A complimentary lunch will be provided.


If you have any queries, please contact Tristan Duncan, Overdose Response Project Officer at the Living Room on 03 99452100.

We're reaching out to youth in Melbourne's outer north with a new program called YHOP and its on the move too.


Youth Projects is delivering the new Youth Services Assertive Outreach Service for Hume City Council called Youth in Hume Outreach Program or “YHOP”.

Our Y-HOP team will be fully mobile and highly visible Campervan fitted out with all the mod-cons to engage with young people. We will have a regular presence at local youth hot spots increasing engagement and encouraging young people to find out how they can connect with new avenues to gain skills, jobs, counselling and support.

The Y-HOP team will initially target the following local areas and we will added other locations as we go:

  • Broadmeadows Shopping Centre
  • Broadmeadows Global Learning Centre
  • Broadmeadows Train Station
  • Sunbury Bus Stop
  • Sunbury Square
  • Craigieburn – Highlands shopping centre
  • Craigieburn Skate Park
  • Craigieburn Train Station
  • Roxburgh Park Train Station
  • Jacana Skate Park

Find out more here

Good 2 Go's big facelift

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Our new look at Good 2 Go showcases the work we do as a social enterprise sending the message that your coffee matters. Over a period of just 48 hours, the team at Burst Graphics completed this all important make over, worth about $5,000, all pro bono.

Good 2 Go began as a trial project in 2013 and continues to grow and develop every year. And according to customer reviews “its so good its great”!

With a new menu, lounge and the only genuine opportunity shop in the heart of the city, Good 2 Go delivers on social impact. Our young trainees learn formal skills and accredited training, build their work experience, and most of all, feel a new sense of confidence and self worth. Good 2 Go is just one of our programs that helps people at risk of homelessness get a foothold in the job market. Because early poverty risks life long poverty, our programs intervene as early as possible to help open up new opportunities for disadvantaged youth to reach their potential.

And we also make great coffee.

Good 2 Go is at 7 Hosier Lane Melbourne, Australia’s premier street art precinct. It’s just a block from from Flinders St station. Open 800 am to 3 pm weekdays, you can also buy clothing, books, shoes and all sorts of unique second hand treasures.

We've already helped 501 at risk and homeless youth find new skills, jobs and purpose. And that number keeps rising. That's some serious impact.

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We’re helping to make inroads on the high rate of youth unemployment in one of the state’s worst hit areas.

Outer suburbs like those reaching from Broadmeadows out to Craigieburn and Sunbury have a “silent epidemic” of young people facing long term unemployment. The youth unemployment rate is double and triple the rate for adults and for those living in inner city areas.

The lack of jobs, transport, and opportunities to get a start in the work force are among well know factors holding back the life chances of teens after leaving school, yet nothing much seems to change. And long term poverty and unemployment are huge risk factors for homelessness.

That’s where our team are fighting back and driving real change. Our Glenroy Youth Space in Hartington St is the centre of our operations that also includes teams in Sunbury and Craigieburn too.

We know young people leave school too early in this region, coming from households where there is already poverty, and no one who is currently in employment. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you care enough to step in and lend a hand.

Working with young people and local employers in a very personalised way is the key.

“Job opportunities don’t just fall from the sky” says Executive Manager at Youth Projects, Wendy Caspar.

“We get out of the office, into the neighbourhoods, the small and medium employers and discover the hidden job opportunities, often creating a job vacancy because employers open up to us about the needs they have and we can help solve skill shortages and employment needs.”

“As a youth designed, youth specific service young people feel a lot more at ease, respected and confident in laying out a plan for the future that is in their hands,” Wendy says.

“It’s a very tough job market for young people who are very discouraged by the stigma they feel and the need for experience that no one will actually give them.”

“What we know is that by really listening, by building up self confidence, the skills for jobs in demand, and overcoming fear and other barriers they may have we can make a huge impact on the future lives of hundreds of young people every year. It’s life changing because without our help there is such a high probability so many young people will remain jobless, living in poverty and really excluded from the community.”

Intervening early is vital because every step is harder the longer people remain unemployed and outcast. For now we’ll continue to help young people find a real start in life so they can go on to reach their potential.

We're partnering with Heinz Australia to bring comfort food and much needed funds for the winter.

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Homelessness has increased in inner Melbourne by 28% and people living in rooming houses, overcrowded short term accommodation and rough sleeping are doing so hard yards.

Our after hours night nursing team have been distributing soup and beanies, while a special Heinz Food Truck will be in Federation Square on Thursdays serving soup with all funds going back to our services.

Did you know research by the City of Melbourne shows

  • 7 percent of adult residents in the CoM worried about whether their food would run out before they got money to buy more.
  • A quarter  of these respondents reported that they felt concern about putting enough food on the table on a monthly basis.
  • Six percent reported that they or other adults in the household cut the size of their meals or skip meals as a way of coping with not having enough money for food. Twenty nine percent of these respondents reported that this was happening on a monthly basis.

For individuals and families, homelessness makes it difficult to engage in education and training and can leave people vulnerable to violence, victimisation, long term unemployment and chronic ill-health. Some health problems are a consequence (but can also be a cause) of homelessness, including poor nutrition, poor dental health, substance misuse, and mental health problems.

Our services help prevent people at risk of homelessness falling further into poverty with specialist support to go back to education, learn new skills, find a job, access free medical care, mental health counselling and genuinely feel a valued part of our community.

You can donate funds to support people who are homeless, cold and hungry in Melbourne at  Donations over $2.00 are tax deductible.


Our Youth Week film competition included entries of all kinds. But it was 12 year old Emily from Sunbury who took out the prize.

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Youth Projects, in a partnership with Neami National YFLEX  hosted a short film festival on the 19 April 2018 for people 12-25 about ‘what is important to you’. First prize was a  $300 voucher of their choosing, with runners all receiving a $200 and $100 voucher of their choosing.

Emily is a passionate film maker who just wishes most of her school work could be presented in film. Her short film looks at what it might be like to flee your home and become a refugee.

Look out for more from Emily in the years ahead. Thank you to all the entrants and the team involved in organising the event.



The inaugural Youth Project's Art & Soul exhibition and silent auction was held on Wednesday 28th February 2018.

The Art and Soul exhibition celebrated art and its ability to connect and empower people.

This unique exhibition showcased the work of artists who have experienced homelessness or trauma, by auctioning their creations alongside works for sale that have been donated by renowned figures in the Australian art scene. Youth Project has a well established art therapy program open to any client, with no experience needed. A wide variety of techniques and media are available and the purpose is to empower and support those who join the group.

The art that gives back.

The Art & Soul exhibition, hosted by ABC’s Jacinta Parsons, auctioned donated artworks from renowned figures in the Australian art scene as well as artists in Youth Projects art therapy program.

Proceeds raised from the sale of  clients’ art works  have gone directly to clients. All other proceeds from the sale of the art will assist Youth Projects in providing critical and unique front line services to Melbourne’s most vulnerable.

Youth Projects Chair, Melanie Raymond, says the artworks showcases the exquisite talents of people Youth Projects artists who have experienced homelessness or trauma.

“Loneliness and exclusion are key drivers of homelessness and only now are such factors being recognised as part of the solutions to widespread homelessness.

“When you give people outlets to build their feel self worth and dignity after long periods of exclusion, we can then build on the positivity and motivation that art delivers.

“The solutions to homelessness are more than just bricks and mortar, they need to be a raft of creative ways that empower and deliver trust and honesty,” Raymond says,

Youth Projects provides a free medical clinic, mental health and drug counselling, outreach support services, employment and training for people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage.

Youth Projects’ CEO Ben Vasilou said the Art & Soul exhibition is not only a fundraising endeavour.

“By exhibiting their works side-by-side, we hope attendees will view all of the creators under the one umbrella, simply as artists,regardless of social status”.

The Art & Soul exhibition was made possible through the generous contributions from its charity partner Brookfield and the Pullman on the Park Hotel.

Special thanks to all the extraordinary artists from Swan Street Studios who have generously donated their work and time to assist in this event, to the very talented Youth Projects clients for sharing their work, and to our partners – Brookfield and The Pullman on The Park hotel for their support, without which this event would not be possible.

Thank you to Penny Lane for the photography of works.

If you are interested in exhibiting or purchasing art from partifcipants in our art group  please contact us at  The Livng Room on (03) 99452100. The next Art and Soul Exhibition is planned for early 2019.

Click link to view all the photos

 Paulyo – Suns above the Town

Raph – Melbourne Cityscape

Gail T – Untitled

 Matt B – Magnificent

Matt B – Benevolent

 Matt B – Malevolent

 Pjay S – The Journey

Adam J – Dolphins

Joe Blundell

Joe Blundell

Robin Stewart

Robin Stewart

Gemma Donnellan

Katherine Edwards

Phillipa Croll

Jill Kempson

Clive Townsend

Clive Townsend

Jill Lewis

Elena Berkovich

Elena Berkovich

Elena Berkovich
Christine Cropley

Mario Cioni

Rita Camenzuli

Laure Rachon

Rosemary Macindoe

Prue Kirkcaldie

David Milne

Sally Madden

Jean Brinkman-Evans
 Meg O’Shannassy



We give people the chance to learn to cook for themselves, clean, manage their health and nutrition along with household finances.

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Our Life Skills program feeds people, but it’s no soup kitchen.

Along the way its a chance to feel included, meet people and access support and care for others.

Hunger in our food rich city

People who are homeless eat on average only 14 meals a week. Many people  report skipping meals and having to chose between eating properly and other essential needs such as phone credit or transport costs.

Less than 10% of Melbourne’s homeless eat foods from all five food groups, 73% state that they go to sleep hungry at least once a week, 65% state they have to beg for food and 53% report not eating for two or more consecutive days a week.

Research shows that people who are homeless have limited economic resources to meet all basic living costs and related disadvantages that may impact access to food including limited transport or unsuitable preparation/storage facilities. They also have high reliance on supports such as emergency relief and community meal programs.

There are currently at least 1002 people experiencing homelessness in the City of Melbourne with around 240 people on the street who were sleeping rough/had improvised accommodation, 118 people staying with friends and family, 872 people living in room or boarding houses and 211 in Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) accommodation.

Homelessness and access to food

Research by the City of Melbourne shows that for people experiencing homelessness:

  • The proximity of emergency relief places within a small area contributes to their ease of accessing food, as it allows them to access meals or food packages without the need for public transport. This is deemed integral for people who are homeless who cannot afford to use public transport or who suffer psychological distress/paranoia when on public transport due to the large crowds and thus avoid its use.
  • Psychological conditions such as depression and paranoia leave them with uncertainty as to when and how they would access their next meal.
  • Distorted eating habits were apparent for people who are homeless. Homeless individuals reported eating large quantities of food when they were able to due to an uncertainty as to when they would get their next meal. Some go for days without eating and survive on coffee and cigarettes.
  • A lack of storage facilities or ability to carry a lot of food around whilst sleeping rough is a barrier for people who are homeless.
  • Poor quality, unhealthy foods at emergency food relief centres.
  • Some avoid attending soup vans due to their being parked in key places and not wanting to be stigmatized by passers by. There can also be a lack of control and coordination of food handouts by soup vans resulting in a form of chaos.

Food security

The issue of food security has long been recognised for populations and individuals in remote communities, but it is only in the last ten years that there has been increased awareness of its existence in the urban setting. Food security is a multidimensional concept and is defined as a state in which:

  • All people have equitable access to food;
  • Access to food is consistent;
  • People can access food from normal channels, and not from emergency relief sources of other coping mechanisms;
  • People have access to enough food to meet their dietary requirements for a healthy and active life; and
  • The food available is safe, nutritious, culturally appropriate and produced in environmentally sustainable ways that promote strong communities

Youth Projects specialist youth employment program Transition to Work has won five national awards for achieving the best outcomes for at risk youth. Operating in Melbourne’s North West region, one of the nation’s “hot spots” for youth disadvantage and unemployment, we have already placed over 240 of a 400 strong case load of unemployed young people back into education or sustainable employment this past year.

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And our service is making real inroads into the teen jobless rate.  We’ve achieved a very high rate of success putting young people back on the road to life long learning, skills and employment, while cutting the cost of  welfare benefits. In doing so, we know that our social impact and return on investment is high.

The Transition to Work is vital in turning around Australia’s high rates of youth unemployment and pathways into youth homelessness.

The latest DSS data reveals the number of Australians on Newstart or Youth Allowance has risen 1.4 per cent to 878,073 in the past year. And three-quarters of people on Newstart have been out of work for more than a year, many for much longer. It’s vital young school leavers are properly supported as soon as possible to work out their strengths, capabilities and goals in life and have a chance to put their dreams into place.

Our intensive, pre-employment support improves  work-readiness  and helps young people into work (including apprenticeships and traineeships) or education. Our priority is  on helping young people with practical skills and insights, so they  understand what is expected in the workplace and can develop the skills, attitudes and behaviours expected by employers.

We know the power of jobs and education in transforming lives and communities.

Youth Projects has a strong record of success working with at risk youth with high impact support.  In fact our team have won national awards for achieving the best outcomes using innovative ideas  In late 2016 we were also awarded “Best Youth Employment Service” at the Long Term Unemployment Conference in Brisbane. We’re based at our Glenroy youth space and also have multiple locations in the north west. Our approach is inclusive, flexible, non-traditional and non-judgemental.

The Glenroy Youth Space  in Hartington St, Glenroy  is a multipurpose  space designed in consultation with local young people to meet the needs they identified for activity, connection, creativity and access to  integrated support services. We thank our partners CoAct and all those who have donated funds to support at risk teens into work and skills and out of an almost certain path of long term poverty.

Find our more about our impact and recipe for success here

Want to join in or refer a friend? Contact us for a confidential chat on how we can help on 93049100 or