Legislative Council: Wednesday, March 22, 2023



The Hon. H.M. GIROLAMO (15:41): My shadow portfolio responsibilities now include communities, disabilities and youth. This is a great privilege and I have enjoyed engaging with stakeholders, leaders and community members, and discussing key policy and focus areas. Today, I would like to focus on one area of my portfolio, being our youth: our future and an incredibly important focus area for us as legislators.

Over the past two months, I have met with multiple organisations and community groups relating to our youth. Today, I would like to highlight a few of these amazing organisations, including Youth Opportunities, Lighthouse Youth Projects, SA Youth Forum, and also meeting with the Commissioner for Children and Young People.

Non-government organisations are vital to ensure service delivery and support for key areas continuing to support our young people. Youth Opportunities' vision is for a world where all young people have the opportunity to be their best. They create opportunities for young people to develop lifelong skills, habits and the confidence to thrive. These programs are invaluable and greatly benefit thousands of young people across the state. I have attended previous graduation events for Youth Opportunities and appreciated the opportunity to meet with their chief executive, Erin Faehrmann, and her team, along with John Gardner, shadow minister for education, and Josh Teague, shadow minister for child protection in the other place.

Youth Opportunities' programs are delivered in schools across our state. They support measurable outcomes and support young lives. Graduates of their programs in 2021 have since reported a 28 per cent reduction in the risk of psychological distress, 89 per cent have reported an increase in skills to look after their wellbeing and, importantly, 93 per cent of graduates report to be taking more responsibility for their lives. Early intervention programs and support are key for better long-term outcomes, and I commend Youth Opportunities for their innovative service delivery and focus on ensuring better outcomes for our youth.

Recently, I attended the opening of Lighthouse Youth Projects' great facility at Port Adelaide. Lighthouse Youth Projects' guiding principle is mentoring through bikes. They strive to empower all young people, especially those who are vulnerable and at risk, to achieve their full potential through bike-based programs and workshops, encouraging confidence, self-worth and positivity, whilst learning amazing bike skills along the way. They believe that bicycles can change lives and be a springboard to a new, positive way of living, while simultaneously helping with the stresses of our lives.

Lighthouse was established by Jamie Moore and Ryan Lloyd following life-changing events that encouraged them to reassess their own paths and look to support others and project their love of bikes and helping the next generation. Bikes can be donated to Lighthouse Youth Projects at their facility in Port Adelaide where they can be repaired and resold to help with the cost of operations in the charity. It was great to meet Jamie, Ryan and the team at Lighthouse and I look forward to visiting again next week to learn more about their programs.

Our youth generation include many great leaders. I appreciated the SA Youth Forum taking the time to meet with me, including founder, Amber Brock-Fabel, Abbey Wilkinson and Tabitha Stephenson-Jones. The SA Youth Forum provides a platform created by young people for young people between the ages of 15 to 18 to engage, discuss and debate issues of relevance that directly affect them. Hearing the voices of young people is vital.

I also took the opportunity to meet with the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Helen Connolly, to discuss what she is hearing and the areas of reform she would like to see. It has been interesting how many common themes have been raised with me and the commissioner relating to what our young people are concerned with, including access to education and future employment opportunities; safety, both online and personal safety; climate change and environmental concerns; and housing affordability.

The bottom line is that, on all sides of the chamber, we want to see positive outcomes in our community across the youth sector and a strong future direction and path for our young. I look forward to continuing to engage with NGOs across our state and developing policies in these key areas.