Young participants can expect a supportive community where their voices are heard at a ground-breaking initiative run by the Logan Youth at Work LDAT @ Substation33.
The program is creating a safe and inclusive space for unemployed young people to gain the confidence and skills to transition to sustainable employment.
Through support and mentorship, this Queensland LDAT promotes positive mental health and alcohol and other drug harm minimisation strategies whilst creating personal and professional growth opportunities for young locals.
The LDAT recognised the unique challenges faced by some Logan youth who have not finished school and who struggle with learning difficulties, mental health issues and alcohol and drug use.
Tiffany Smith, a social worker with @ Substation33 explained that while the social enterprise trains and upskills youth for employment, they also support young people with positive connections and knowledge on how to go forward to have a healthy life.
“Stress can lead to harmful ways with alcohol and drugs. We try to remove stigma and encourage open conversations where the highlight is not on alcohol and drugs but on their reaction to life,” shared Tiffany.
Tiffany says that the LDAT’s Mentoring, Mental Health Awareness and Harm Minimisation @ Substation33 program enhances the existing work skills program.
It focuses on three key areas:
- Mentoring: local mentors are trained and share their knowledge and life experiences, to help youth develop vital life skills, build resilience, and pursue positive pathways.
- Mental health awareness: interactive sessions address various mental health topics, providing participants with the tools to understand and manage their emotional well-being.
- Harm minimisation: the program educates youth about the potential risks and consequences of alcohol and drug use, develops skills for safer decision-making, and provides information on how to access resources for harm reduction and support.
During the development of their LDAT Community Action Plan, Tiffany found the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s ongoing support invaluable in ensuring that all the right components and funding criteria were in their final submission.
Up to eight trainees complete the program every six months.
“What’s really beneficial is that we equip our trainees - not just for jobs, but for life. They make new networks and feel safe to raise issues that they have never been able to talk about and get guidance on.”
“We try to have a job prospect for them if they are ready and, if not, they continue to volunteer,” said Tiffany.
Surveys show that more than 80% of participants have increased confidence in their listening skills and in building relationships with others, as well as increased insight into their own needs and how to manage their stress.
And, there’s been positive feedback from participants, who have found it a great exercise in self-awareness and improvement, and that the content can be confronting but good to learn about.
"Mentor training was a valuable experience, fuelling my personal and professional growth. It also led to me drinking less alcohol, through its focus on positive values and self-discovery,” reported one trainee.
Advice for other LDATs
Tiffany’s advice for other LDATs who want to work with young people is first to make sure you have the background knowledge about their issues so you are not out of your depth.
“It’s important not to panic or preach when talking to young people about alcohol and drugs. We provide a place where there is non-judgemental discussion.”
She says that the team has learnt to be better at identifying who is ready to participate and that trainees need to be comfortable with staff and feel supported.
LDATs wishing to follow a similar approach could use the ADF’s updated LDAT Mentoring toolkit as a guide.