It's often difficult for schools to evaluate external, non-academic programs' suitability or integrate them effectively amongst their school's existing offerings. A collective of youth-focused organisations is partnering with a group of progressive funders to simplify schools' choices and improve students' lives. Andrew Turvey, General Manager of Together 4 Youth, explains more.

Young people taking a selfie

An holistic approach combining both academic and non-academic support is imperative to develop well-rounded young people who will do well through their high school careers and into the world of work or further study. 

Despite its importance, there are numerous reasons why non-academic support is so under-resourced in many schools. Firstly, academic outcomes like NAPLAN and HSC results, not students' social and emotional learning or personal growth, are used to measure school success. In addition, and despite their best attempts, many schools find it near impossible to wade through the range of non-academic supplier offerings to find the best programs to help their students. They also lack the time or requisite skills to implement the programs properly.

Together 4 Youth (T4Y) is a new and unique group of evidence-based youth services providers who have come together to address this need. The collective comprises well-known charitable organisations including Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN), batyr, Beacon Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, EdConnect, Helmsman Project, Mission Australia, Raise Foundation, Reach, Top Blokes and Youth Opportunities.

How it works

T4Y will help each school leadership team identify the best combination of non-academic youth services programs particular to their student needs from year 7 through to year 12.  It will then oversee the coordinated implementation, ongoing management and evaluation of these programs, allowing schools to focus on their core business of teaching and learning and contributing to the achievement of excellent student outcomes. 

Collaborative funding model

This collaborative and bespoke approach to working closely with schools and service providers has never been implemented before in Australia. However, it has been enthusiastically embraced by our seed funding partners, including Third Link. We are grateful that these progressive funders recognise the potential for more significant impact through collaboration rather than funding multiple organisations working in isolation.  

Next steps

Thanks to our seed funding partners, T4Y has completed the preparatory work necessary to pilot our approach across several high schools in 2022. These pilots will allow us to build the research, evaluation and advocacy required to develop the program for future rollout.

The COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns and lengthy spells of learning from home have compounded the need for holistic support for more students. A coordinated approach to support our young people's social and emotional well-being is more important than ever. 

T4Y looks forward to working with Third Link and the other seed funding partners and warmly welcomes enquiries from other funders who may be interested in supporting the initiative.

You can contact Andrew Turvey for more information at andrew.turvey@together4youth.org.au