Reconnect West UnitingCare Werribee Support & Housing


I rise today to commend the work of the Reconnect West, the Reconnect Youth Homelessness Prevent Program in Hobsons Bay and Wyndham. This is a joint program between Uniting Care Werribee Support and Housing and Anglicare Victoria Western Region. It delivers early intervention in youth homelessness. It is funded through the Department of Social Security and it works with young people and their families to reduce the risk of homelessness.

I have had a personal connection with this program, having referred students there who were in situations of chronic disconnection from family and who felt that they had nowhere to turn. When you are working in schools it is important to have long-term associations with organisations like Reconnect West. There are sometimes frequent changes of staff in schools. I frequently found myself in situations where I was working with a young person who felt that he or she could not return home for various reasons. Having the phone number of a reliable organisation, which can give a young person immediate assistance is absolutely vital in reducing the homelessness of our young people.

Reconnect West works with about 62 young people across a given a year. The organisation does case management, outreach, counselling and advocacy. It provides support for parents—the other side of disconnected youth. The organisation offers single therapy sessions and assisted referrals. It conducts mediation between young people and their peers, or young people and their families. But, most importantly, the Reconnect West does case management. That means that young people have someone that they can rely on, across a significant amount of time, to ensure that they get reconnected. I would like to commend the workers from Reconnect West: Cath Guerrieri, Essam Shehata and Sharon Tyrrell, who have been working with young people across the cities of Wyndham and Hobsons Bay for some time.

This program is funded until the end of this financial year. I received an email this week from Carol Muir, the chief executive officer of UnitingCare Werribee Support and Housing. She has long been serving in community organisations. Her question is simple: is this program still much loved by government? She asks, 'Can we get some assurance about funding beyond the next financial year?'

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