Tom* was abandoned by his mother at birth and ignored by his father from contraception. For the first 8 years of his life, Tom's grandmother looked after him. However, the responsibility of looking after an active child became too much for her.
Soon after his 8th birthday, Tom's grandmother sat him down and explained that his aunt's extended family would "take turns" in looking after him. For the next 7 years, Tom moved from one household to another - learning new rules, changing schools and trying to fit into a different family environment.
By the age of 15, Tom was in trouble with the law and spent six months in prison. Close to his release date he discovered he had nowhere to go as his family would not take him back.
That's when Tom was accepted into South West Youth Services' (SWYS) Post Release Support Program. South West Sydney is one of Australia's most disadvantaged regions with large numbers of young people experiencing homelessness, low levels of education, unemployment, family dysfunction and addiction. As a result, SWYS offers a range of prevention and intervention programs to help put young people back on the right path. These programs include: Links to Learning, Youth Crime Prevention Program, Youth Counselling Service and The Post Release Support Program.
In the 4 months since Tom's release, his life has turned around. The Post Release Support Program provided Tom with housing advice and counselling, which helped him uncover his interest in carpentry. He is now working as an apprentice carpenter and his employer is delighted with his progress. While Tom finds the course challenging, he has not missed a class. But better yet, he has not had any further trouble with the law.
The SWYS programs have demonstrated remarkable results, similar to Tom's, for young people wanting to find a better path in life.
*name has been changed to protect the student's identity.