Youth Engagement Alliance – Collaboration in Practice – ‘Connecting the Dots’

A lot of times we don’t get to see these kids in a policing response. So we will deal with
parents, we’ll deal with housing issues, we’ll deal with drugs and domestic violence. But
a lot of times when our officers respond; the kids will be asleep, they’ll be in a back
room, they’ll be staying in the garage, they’ll be at a friend’s place.
It’s only when you start hearing names and understanding the connection between what
we’re dealing with and what we’re seeing on a daily basis, you start putting a few of
the pieces together. It just gives you a much broader perspective as to what’s going on
in your community. Voiceover:
In response to St. George high school reaching …out for support, a panel of local stakeholders
was established to work together on solutions for students and their families that were
at high risk of disengagement. Kelly:
We’ve tried everything that we know or that …we feel that we can do and we still hadn’t
had success. Simon:
Looking at a holistic approach for helping these kids is the only way in a small community.
I think, you know umm… if one wheel’s flat …or making a noise you can fix that and the
car’s good but if all the wheels are flat …you need to hit it from all different directions,
you know what I mean, and you need to work …together and there’s no point fixing one you
got to fix all of them. Kelly:
For us it’s wasn’t a matter of the school …doing better it was about a community doing
better and working together to achieve that. Paul:
The Complex Care Panel in St. George when …it first started up I was a little bit sceptical;
it brings together a group of government and …non-government workers including the Police.
It’s a very intense process where you’re talking …about one or two or three individuals on a
monthly meeting. Kelly:
And so we would case manage students at a …local level and then any students that we
felt we were really at our wits end, we didn’t …know what else to try, we would then refer
those students to the Complex Care Panel. Previously some of our students had already
engaged with some of the organisations that were part of our panel but there wasn’t that
sharing of information between the agencies. Feeding back to the school, feeding back to
the police, feeding back to our NGOs. So I think that that was really critical. Voiceover:
Each time the group meets they agree on a …course of action for each young person and
allocate tasks. They nominate a lead agency, …usually the one with the strongest relationship
with the young person, to be a single point …of contact for the young person and their
family. They review each case periodically and adjust their actions when they need to. Kelly:
We all had panel members basically sign a declaration of confidentiality that whatever
was discussed within our Complex Care Panel stayed within the Complex Care Panel, but
also knowing that we did need to be open and honest each other because only when we did
share information can we really get to the …core of an issue. Paul:
Having that ability to input into these discussions, contextualise some of the issues that are
going on in a family dynamic, really allows …the other NGOs and also the school to be aware
of what some of the things that are at play. Kelly:
A Complex Care Panel isn’t a magic wand it’s not the solution to all of the problems but
I think what it does do is for the few individuals that are involved in this process, they themselves
have a benefit and improved outcomes. I do think for us it was about solutions focused
but with those solutions they had an action component. So there was something that somebody
was responsible for. Paul:
What I did find throughout that process is that if you really take the time to actually
invest in these kids … you can see some positive outcomes. Kelly:
Some of our students we were able to engage with certificates and training so they weren’t
necessarily coming back to school but we still felt there was a focus there on education
and training. So even though that wasn’t provided within a school context you know that was
still success. Paul:
Probably the biggest part was the relationships that I was able to build with the other service
providers in town. Simon:
The networking part of it, like, coming together …and meeting all the other service providers
and seeing what they do and then discussing the same client was really, really helpful
because everyone’s got a different approach. Everyone’s got different skills. Paul:
Being able to link in with NGOs and also through the school, identify where service provisions
are available, …made our job a hell of a lot easier. Kelly:
There’s the opportunity to make sure that we’re not doubling up on support groups and
perhaps one support group is working within …with that family or with the student
and they’ve got to the point where they think “no we can’t offer anything else”, you know,
then there’s the opportunity for another organisation or support group to step in. Paul:
What we’re looking at doing with these young people is really trying to change their trajectory.
If we can identify that they’re on a path that ultimately will lead to some negative
outcomes, we’re realistic about what we can achieve and it’s really just about adjusting
that trajectory, so that we can try and get them a better pathway to success. Simon:
I think it’s you know all about these kids. That should always be our focus is what’s
the best interest for the young person.

Michael Martin

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