Giving ‘power’ to local youth

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By Natalee Kerr

Dozens of Geelong youths have benefited from a “unique” local service designed to help vulnerable people in the region.

The Youth Power program provides 15 to 25-year-olds with one-on-one support to achieve individual aspirations, such as employment, education and well-being goals.

The Centacare initiative, co-located at Headspace Geelong, has received more than 50 referrals since launching last March and currently has 28 active participants.

Youth worker Geraldine Pompei said the high number of referrals highlighted the “need” for the service.

“Many young people find it a challenge to make meaningful connections in the community and this can be exacerbated by life circumstances and mental health (problems),” she said.

“Together we identify strategies and tools to assist the young person to thrive, grow and establish a sense of well-being and hope.”

Ms Pompei said supporting young people was “important” as they face an “increasingly uncertain future” with entry level employment decreasing in the region in recent years.

“(The program) aims to empower young people of diverse backgrounds and abilities and provides equitable access to services, opportunities, skills and life experiences,” she said.

Grovedale’s Rebekah Lolait joined the program after experiencing health issues following the completion of her university degree.

“I hoped to work straight after uni but I ended up spending a lot of time at home due to being unwell, which made me feel isolated and lost,” the 24-year-old said.

“At the time people around me were saying, ‘why don’t you see a counsellor?’ but that’s not what I felt I needed.”

Ms Lolait said the “individualised” weekly program focusses on a goal-setting approach.

“There’s nothing really out there like it,” she said.

“I feel safe to talk about my issues and how they may affect my goals but it’s not like a full-on counselling session.”

Ms Lolait said she has greatly benefited from the program since becoming involved three months ago.

“I’ve definitely seen improvements in my overall motivation in life and I’m excited about the future again,” she said.

“As a young person it’s sometimes hard to know where to go and what to do next.

“Sometimes you just need a bit of support to get back on track and focused towards your goals again.”

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