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Fairbridge supporting varied needs of young people

As Commissioner for Children and Young People, one of the underlying principles of my advocacy is the need for a holistic approach to improving the wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people.

One organisation working in this way to bring about long-term sustainable change and help young people reach their full potential is Fairbridge.

Today, I visited CEO Mark Anderson at the heritage-listed town site near Pinjarra to talk about their facilities and programs, and hear about the great work they’re doing across the organisation.

One of the key priority areas for the organisation is providing opportunities for at-risk young people, and Mark spoke about the multi-faceted approach Fairbridge uses in working with young people and their families.

Children or young people who are disadvantaged or vulnerable can face a range of challenges that can impede their healthy development.

Fairbridge aims to minimise these challenges by offering programs such as mentoring, leadership development, life skills, accommodation, education, training, employment opportunities and adventure camps, which are helping to encourage creativity, confidence and self-discovery all in the safety of a nurturing and positive environment.

Another key priority for Fairbridge is to achieve economic sustainability through social enterprise, social investment and the sustainable use and development of Fairbridge Village. 

It was impressive to see first hand the careful restoration and conservation work that has been undertaken at the Village, much of it completed by young people as part of the Youth at Risk Construction Training Initiative.

I also had the opportunity to talk with staff from the Fairbridge Centre for Social Innovation WA, established to research and evaluate programs to develop a clear understanding of what works and why. 

A key guiding principle of the work of the Commissioner for Children and Young People is that the views of children and young people on all matters affecting them should be given serious consideration and taken into account, and it was particularly pleasing to hear that one of the evaluations currently being undertaken was including the views of children and young people with a disability.

There is a clear imperative to help build the evidence base to support better outcomes for young people and their families, and the work of the Fairbridge Centre for Social Innovation WA is a particularly exciting initiative.

Jenni Perkins
Acting Commissioner for Children and Young People