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Way Out There

Young people living in residential homes are getting the opportunity to learn important life skills through the Way Out There program.

Living in our residential homes, young people like Josh* and Maddison* don’t often have exposure to role models to demonstrate what it takes to live independently. They don’t witness parents managing bills, household maintenance or the weekly grocery shop. But when they turn 18 and leave our care, they’re expected to fend for themselves, with little funded support.

Thanks to the incredible support of our philanthropic supporters, Josh and Maddison had the opportunity to participate in Way Out There, a 10-week program which equips young people aged 15-18 years with important life skills and empowers them to live independently.

By providing fun and interactive experiences we can assist them to develop independent living skills, reducing reliance on long-term welfare and empowering young people to transition smoothly out of care and connect to their wider community.

Josh and Maddison took part in a range of activities as part of the Way Out There program, from visiting Bunnings and learning how to repair holes in plaster, to a session with the MacKillop fleet team who showed them basic car maintenance like changing a tyre.

16-year-old Maddison said she enjoyed the cooking class at Holmesglen TAFE, where a chef showed them how to prepare some quick and easy meals. “I wasn’t thrilled to be making a frittata. All my favourite dishes include salmon, but I liked chopping up the ingredients and preparing a dish myself,” admitted Maddison.

Her favourite activity was yoga, which teaches participants relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and awareness, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. Maddison also learnt how to make her own calming essential oil blend.

Josh was particularly interested in the visit they made to Centrelink. Knowing that he understands the system and what’s required to access relevant benefits makes him feel more confident about turning 18 later in the year.

Many of the young people involved in Way Out There are exposed to experiences they might not have had the opportunity to have previously. As a strengths-based program it focuses on building self-esteem and confidence through achievements young people can accomplish during sessions and rewards those achievements by providing adventure-based experiences.

Outcomes include confidence in budgeting and banking, cooking and food safety, personal hygiene, first aid and driving skills. Participants are also educated about drug and alcohol awareness, sexual health, legal rights and responsibilities, cyber safety, emotional regulation and appropriate social behaviours.

Both Josh & Maddison are soon taking part in the Victorian Child Safety Commissioner’s Debutante Ball. As Maddison says, “I don’t like the wedding cake dresses or the idea of dancing with someone, but it’s an experience I’ll only have one chance to have”.

*Names changed to protect privacy.