Key Employment Youth Hub

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Interior of the Key Employment Youth Hub

The goal of our youth hub is to create a safe space for young people aged 12 to 22 years that provides opportunities for social, educational and recreational development and offers a sense of belonging and community pride. We believe we are achieving this goal and are very proud to be supporting the youth of the Coffs Coast in this way. FOCUS chatted with Jodi Wood.

what is the KE Youth Hub?

The recent purchase of our West High Street property (the old Catholic club) has provided KE with a unique opportunity to create a contemporary and innovative youth hub. The hub includes three bowling greens, a tennis court and two basketball courts. The hub building includes office space, a kitchen with free food, wi-fi, Netflix, pool table and shower and wash facilities. The hub has been purposely designed to suit the needs of disengaged youth and has enabled us to support young people on more social levels.

Tell us why Key Employment opened a youth hub?

Since 2012, over 1,600 young people have registered with Key Employment. During this time, we have become increasingly concerned with the lack of social support services available to them. We have seen incredible levels of disadvantage, including:

  • Homelessness
  • Drug and alcohol use/misuse
  • Lack of transport
  • Self-harm and suicide
  • Poor hygiene, poor nutrition, poor physical health
  • Limited social networks and limited family support
  • Lack of opportunity for educational and social engagement
  • Generational unemployment and welfare dependency

We believe that the best way to combat many of these issues is by giving young people a sense of belonging to their community by providing them with engaging and meaningful recreational experiences. We also know that employment is the most powerful pathway to broader community engagement, so by providing our local youth with a safe and familiar space to access tailored services and programs, this is more likely to be achieved.
To date, Key Employment has invested 100% of the start-up cost to set-up and open the youth hub. We are a not for profit service, and this youth hub is our way of giving back to the community.

KAPOW is a flagship program that Key Employment offers in assisting young people who aren’t attending school an alternative education program aimed at getting them ready for work. Please tell us a bit about it.

KAPOW stands for Kids and the Power of Work. We developed KAPOW in response to the massive gap that currently exists in the education system for students with psychiatric or learning disabilities, who are disengaged and extremely disadvantaged. It was developed for kids who hate school and who don’t attend – for kids who are familiar with juvenile justice, DOCS, PHAMS, headspace and the inside of a principal’s office. It was created to assist these students transition from school to work. The overall aim of the program is to show these kids what employment can mean for them and their family. That the power of work means NEVER having to step inside a Centrelink office.
Students who attend KAPOW gain a Certificate III qualification that is equivalent to a higher school certificate. They also complete a personal development program and a work experience placement. Class sizes are small, and one on one tutorial support is provided. Since 2013, we have graduated over 600 young people in this program and have seen so many of them turn their life around in that time. It really is an inspiring program staffed by passionate and trained youth workers and run from the most youth-friendly space in Coffs Harbour.

Key employment is offering NDIS services now. What programs do you run from the hub for people with an NDIS package?

Key employment is running a successful SLES program called KIKSTART. This program assists students with NDIS packages transition from school to work. The course runs from our youth hub two days a week from 9 am – 2:30 pm. Students are also placed into a work experience placement for up to eight hours a week, with one on one support. The KIKSTART class covers many different areas, including transport training, life skills, work readiness, budgeting, social skills and employability. The course is designed to help young people with disability get ready for work, and the ultimate goal is to find open employment positions for those who attend.
The class is also a lot of fun, with plenty of opportunities for social interaction. We are seeing great success with this program, and have already placed a number of students into open employment positions.

What other programs do you offer from the youth hub?

We offer the following programs from our youth hub:

  • Breakfast program
  • Youth Sexual Health Clinic
  • Job Club @ the Hub
  • Hoops @ the Hub
  • Crisis Services
  • School Engagement Program
  • Youth Worker Case Management
  • Life Skills Course
  • Get Fit Activities
  • Anger and Stress Management

For more information on any of these programs, contact Simon Booth on (02) 6691 9999.

What is the best way for a young person or person with a disability to connect with Key Employment?

The youth hub is open from 9 am – 5 pm, Monday to Friday, and young people aged 12–22 are encouraged to just come in and use the space. If you would like to book a group in to use the facilities, would like a tour or want to hear more about any of our programs, you can contact Key Employment CEO Jodi Wood at any time to arrange a meeting with her or one of her amazing team members. Please email or call the KE offices on (02) 6691 9999.

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