The AFL Players’ Association have welcomed today’s unique partnership announcement between the NSW Government and not-for-profit organisation, Ladder.
Young people in out-of-home-care will benefit from a range of programs aimed at tackling youth homelessness after Minister for Family and Community Services, Brad Hazzard, announced $1.3 million in funding over two years for Ladder Step Up Western Sydney.
The proposal will see education, employment and mentoring given to young people to explore vocations which interest them.
The AFL Players’ Association CEO Paul Marsh said the league’s athletes have a vital role to play in tackling youth homelessness.
“The AFL Players’ commend the NSW Government on their support of Ladder Step Up Western Sydney,” CEO Paul Marsh said.
“Sport has an important role to play in driving inclusion and addressing social change, and AFL players have a strong history of making a difference in the community.
“We are proud to be a part of the important work that Ladder is doing, and look forward to seeing the work of Ladder grow into Greater Western Sydney to make a difference in the lives of young people.”
Minister Hazzard said that 60 per cent of children and young people in care experience homelessness at some point in their lives.
“Too many of Australia’s homeless are young and too many have been in out-of-home-care,” Hazzard said.
“The Premier has made it clear that reducing youth homelessness is a priority for this government. We can’t do this alone — we need to be more innovative and we need to be more collaborative.
“Our partnership with Ladder, and their major partners the AFL, AFL Players and GWS GIANTS, is an opportunity to explore ideas and come up with programs that affect real change in young people’s lives.”
Ladder was established by a group of AFL players in 2007 in a bid to empower young people to break the cycle of homelessness. Ladder is the Official Charity of AFL Players’ Association and a national partner of the AFL.
The Ladder Step Up Western Sydney Program will target young people aged 17-20 who are exiting out-of-home-care support services and need assistance to find ongoing employment. Specific groups will be run for young mums and bubs and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.
Several 34 week programs with different groups of young people will run over the two year period and will include work experience opportunities, assistance in finding employment as well as mentoring.
Ladder CEO, Elisabeth Tuckey said this early intervention program would reach young people as they exited from out-of-home care and give them the best possible chance of success.
“Each one of these young people deserve a chance to build a bright future and this program will provide just that,” Tuckey said.
“We know that this group is at-risk of homelessness so it makes complete sense to intervene early and support them to build independent living skills, community connections and secure employment or education.
“Youth homelessness is an issue that must be addressed by the community as a whole. We look forward to working with the NSW Government, our major partners, the Western Sydney community, organisations and employers to make a real difference to these young people’s lives.
“Ladder is delighted to be working in partnership with the AFL Players’ Association, AFL and the GWS GIANTS to enhance the program and champion the role of sport as a social inclusion tool.”