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Establishing a community of schools and services for Wodonga

17 May, 2019

Young people identified to be at risk of homelessness or disengagement from education will soon benefit from a coordinated response with funding being awarded to the Wodonga Project, a local partnership of schools, services and networks.

Based on the successful Community of Schools and Services (COSS) model, which is achieving significant outcomes for young people in Geelong and being established in several sites across Australia and internationally, the Wodonga Project will work to address social and educational disadvantage in local schools.

Participants in the delivery of the project include Junction Support Services, Gateway Health (including School Focused Youth Service and headspace Albury Wodonga), North East Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service, Upper Murray Family Care, the Wodonga Federation of Government Schools, the Victorian Department of Education and Training, the Victorian Department of Health and Health Services, and the North East Local Learning and Employment Network (NELLEN).

On Monday NELLEN was awarded three years of funding by Wodonga City Council, via the most recent round of the Community Impact Partnership Program, for the delivery of Stage Two of the implementation of The Wodonga Project.

With 1045 young people in need of further support presenting to Junction Support Services in the 2017–2018 year, there is a compelling case for change. Despite a highly skilled and dedicated workforce committed to addressing these challenges through a range of programs, the number of young people reaching a point of crisis continues to exceed the resources available, placing stress on the system and perpetuating disadvantage.

By implementing the COSS model, which is grounded in systems change and data-driven early intervention practice, with strong collaboration between participants, the Wodonga Project could help to reduce youth crisis presentations, school disengagement and early school leaving.

Junction’s Specialist Adolescent Services Manager Rachel Habgood said for the past 30 years Junction has been supporting people experiencing and at risk of homelessness.

‘We know that couch surfing and leaving school early can have lifelong effects. The Wodonga Project is an exciting opportunity to identify early, and support, at-risk young people in our community,’ she said.

Centre Manager of headspace Albury Wodonga Karina Kerr spoke of the value of collaboration to improve outcomes for young people.

‘This is a great opportunity to advance partnerships with community organisations and schools working together to produce early intervention outcomes for young people,’ she said.

Junction Support Services, headspace Albury Wodonga and NELLEN will contribute resources and in-kind support as part of their partnership agreement.

Wodonga Council's Community Impact Partnership Program provides seed funding for not-for-profit organisations to provide dynamic opportunities and experiences for residents and visitors. The local residents who will receive the biggest benefit from this announcement will be the young people of the community as they transition through their secondary education.