21 October, 2022

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (17:34): I move:

That this council—

  1. Congratulates Youth Opportunities on celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2022;
  2. Recognises the positive impact that Youth Opportunities has made in the lives of almost 15,000 young people across more than 80 schools and organisations in South Australia since its establishment; and
  3. Acknowledges the valuable role that Youth Opportunities plays in empowering young people to reach their full potential through its personal leadership programs and social enterprise, Generation Thrive.


It is a great honour to rise today to move this motion in my name to acknowledge the important work of Youth Opportunities.

Youth Opportunities has been one of Australia's leading youth support and development organisations since its establishment 25 years ago.

As Shadow Minister for Communities, I am passionate about supporting the hard work and dedication of our amazing youth, and I recognise that the important work of organisations such as Youth Opportunities is making a difference in bringing out the potential of our young people.

The work of Youth Opportunities was first brought to my attention through my dear friend Linda Jones, who is the Head of Fundraising and Marketing at Youth Opportunities. Subsequently, I got to know the CEO, Erin Faehrmann.

I want to express how wonderful it is to work with them and how passionate and how committed these two young leaders are in delivering successful programs for young people.

By way of background, in 1997, Peter Marshman OAM founded the charity Youth Opportunities Association with the aim of developing the leadership skills of young people and helping shape the future of young people experiencing disadvantage.

His aim was to give young people the skills and tools to make positive life choices, breaking the cycle of long-term unemployment and disadvantage.

On 12 August this year, which was also International Youth Day, I had the pleasure and honour to be invited to attend a celebration of Youth Opportunities' 25th anniversary.

It was a morning filled with uplifting speeches from many young achievers and partners of Youth Opportunities, who recounted their life journeys. A common thread through these stories was the lifelong skills, habits and confidence that were developed by the world-class programs from Youth Opportunities.

Those young people represented a mere fraction of the now almost 15,000 youths who have had their lives positively impacted by Youth Opportunities.

Ninety-three per cent of program graduates feel more responsibility for taking action in their lives, 92 per cent have higher confidence, 88 per cent reported improved self-image, 85 per cent developed a clear understanding of their future and 84 per cent feel that they have better relationships with their peers and family.

Young people have gone through many challenges during the pandemic. As we now begin the process of recovery, we see that young people are more anxious and more uncertain of their future than ever before. This is why Youth Opportunities and organisations like this are vital in empowering young people and preparing them for the future.

I would like to turn my attention now to speak on and acknowledge many of the wonderful programs that Youth Opportunities provides. The first one is the Personal Leadership Program, which is delivered to year 10 students using 40 practical tools that develop skills and strategies in areas of wellbeing, resilience and leadership.

The first school-based Personal Leadership Program was delivered by Youth Opportunities in 1998 to year 10 students at two schools in Adelaide's north, Salisbury and Smithfield Plains high schools.

The positive outcomes instigated further development and expansion across metropolitan and regional South Australia. Twenty-five years on, the Personal Leadership Program has been delivered in over 80 schools and organisations in metropolitan and regional South Australia, changing the lives of almost 15,000 young people and positively impacting the schools themselves, the school communities, the families and the communities as a whole.

In October 2021, Youth Opportunities launched its social enterprise, Generation Thrive, to support the wellbeing and life skill development of Australia's young people aged 15 to 30 through online personal leadership programs.

The social enterprise has been launched because of an increasing need to deliver prevention and early intervention programs that address skills shortages and wellbeing for young people beyond the school gates and in our workplaces.

These deliver world-class evidence-based programs across Australia while at the same time creating a profit for purpose business that supports opportunities for young people experiencing disadvantage and adversity.

Other programs include the apprenticeship program, scholarships, graduate engagement, parent and teacher support, and engagement with sports clubs and workplaces.

These programs play a valuable role in empowering young people to reach their full potential. The outcomes are clear and obvious.

Participants report increases across all areas of wellbeing, including optimism, happiness, engagement, perseverance, and connectedness. Increased wellbeing levels resulted in young people finding full-time work two months faster than their peers.

I want to touch on the importance of fundraising activities for Youth Opportunities. In the last financial year, Youth Opportunities received 67, almost 70 per cent of their income from donations and fundraising, equal to approximately $2.2 million.

I had the honour to recommend Youth Opportunities as a charity partner to Auta Group as a charity organisation for their 10th anniversary and dinner held in June this year. The event was incredibly successful and Auta's gala dinner managed to raise $24,388 for Youth Opportunities.

Thank you to Auta Group for valuing Youth Opportunities' work and choosing to support their incredible service as part of Auta's 10th anniversary celebration.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge all the generous people and organisations who have given so much to Youth Opportunities over the years.

After 25 years of hard work, Youth Opportunities has shown all of us the importance of supporting the mental health of young people and the different approaches that must be undertaken to instil good habits and values, so that they can create a better future for themselves and their families.

Once again, it is such an honour to recognise Youth Opportunities in parliament today, and wholeheartedly recognising their great work.

Congratulations to Youth Opportunities on their 25-year anniversary.

The future is certainly looking very bright, and I hope they will go from strength to strength.

I commend the motion to the chamber.