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New way of helping ‘at risk’ young people

Major Jenny Begent
11 September 2018

The Salvation Army’s structured departure from the ‘Out of Home Care’ sector continues, with existing contracts generally being completed by July 2019.

Major Jenny Begent, the Salvation Army’s national departmental head of social mission, told e-connect that funders are in negotiation with other service providers and that The Salvation Army will ‘stay a little longer, if necessary, to ensure a smooth transition’.

‘We’ll work closely with DHHS to ensure that children, staff, and carers get the best possible outcomes,’ she added.

The Salvation Army will be opening a youth department in 2019, which will be dedicated to serving children and young people in Australian communities. The policy framework will address youth accommodation, support and transition responses, focusing on early intervention, education, training and ‘pathways into a more sustainable lifestyle’.

The Salvation Army will maintain some transition and support programs for teenagers, and some parenting programs, with the goal of supporting at-risk young people as they move from adolescence to adulthood.

‘This is a new way forward,’ Major Begent said.

‘It is a part of The Salvation Army’s new approach to ensure we have a national footprint; one that focuses on what we do well, and plays to our strengths.’

Those strengths, the major notes, include the following sectors: homelessness (and Family and Domestic Violence); Alcohol and Other Drugs (withdrawal and rehabilitation services); strategic disaster management (in the aftermath of bushfires, floods, sieges, etc.); Emergency Relief and Community Support Services (food vouchers and financial counselling, etc.); and Salvation Army chaplaincy (throughout Salvation Army services, and across courts and prisons, hospitals, the hospitality sector, military, emergency services, schools, and the Sydney and Melbourne airports).

The policy decision represents the end of an era for The Salvation Army in Australia. As early as the 1880s, Salvationists were engaged with ‘young women and runaway teenagers’, protecting, reconciling them with their families where possible, and otherwise relocating and accommodating them away from ‘the opium dens and brothels of the Little Bourke Street area’ in Melbourne. ***

During this time, pioneering Salvation Army officer Major James Barker exercised ‘the legal right to apprehend young people in need of care and protection’ and, ‘by 1886, was a life-Governor of the Melbourne hospital to which he took the sick girls he found’ in the afore-mentioned brothels and opium dens.
* The out of home care sector refers to facilities and services that look after children and young people when they cannot safely live with their families.
** The Department of Health and Human Services Victoria.
***As recorded in Booth’s Drum – The Salvation Army in Australia 1880-1980 (1980).