Fact sheet 1.  Whitelion: the organisation, its clients and programs

Whitelion is a not for profit organisation that works with young people involved in the Youth Justice System or at risk of involvement. It also works with those in the child protection system because of neglect and abuse.

Since its beginning in 1999, Whitelion has developed and delivered a range of effective programs and services to its young clients and supported them on release during the difficult period of transition and (re)connection with family and community.

Whitelion’s primary services for these young people are the employment program to secure and support young people into employment, and the mentoring program where trained volunteer mentors connecting with young people on a fortnightly basis as they transition from custody or out-of-home care. 

Whitelion’s clients are among the most disadvantaged and marginalised people in our community who have difficulty in accessing education, health care, accommodation, employment, income support and other support services.

They are often from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, have high levels of drug dependency (47%), mental illness (22%), histories of abuse, and low literacy and numeracy skills.

Many also come from families who have experienced multigenerational unemployment and financial difficulties. “Many young offenders act impulsively, have chaotic, substance-abusing lifestyles and all too often their family relationships and community links have been fractured.” (Campbell, 2000:6). Approximately 50% of people in the Youth Justice System are young people of indigenous heritage.

Other successful Whitelion programs in Victoria and Tasmania include:

  • Sports and Music Role Models doing activities on a weekly basis in Youth Justice Centres
  • Young Women’s Peer Education Program involving weekly support and development activities for young women transitioning from custody to the community
  • Development Programs, including Young Lions youth leadership development for young people; and Arts, including performance, visual arts and multi-media activities that develop a positive self-image
  • ROAR, a prevention program that develops the social skills of young people at risk of entering custody targeted at schools that are over-represented in the Youth Justice System.

Whitelion works with community partners to deliver its programs and services to young people.

Whitelion is funded through government grants (about 30% of its income) and philanthropic grants and donations (about 30%). Corporate sponsorships, fundraising events and activities and individual donations provide about 40% of its income.

Fact sheet 2.  Whitelion’s South Australian Project

The project will support the establishment of Whitelion in Adelaide, enabling the delivery of employment and mentoring programs for disadvantaged young people in South Australia. These programs will be developed and delivered with a range of partners including government, other service providers, businesses and community groups.
It will establish Whitelion as a service provider in South Australia to address locally identified needs of high risk young people and those in the justice and out of home care systems.

The project is based on the proven success of employment programs and outcomes in Victoria – confirmed in Tasmania – as well as programs in the areas of role modelling, mentoring, indigenous programs, outreach services and prevention programs in rural and metropolitan communities.

It will provide new programs and services for young people in need by expanding its successful and proven employment programs for young people involved in the Youth Justice System or at risk of involvement.

Whitelion works with its community partners to deliver its programs and services to young people. The employment and mentoring programs will thus build better support networks in the community. The project will recruit, train and support new volunteers to provide expanded services.

Whitelion SA has gained funding to support employment of a State Manager to enable funded projects to be developed and implemented, and local partnerships to be developed in the first two years from FY 2008-2009. Funding has also been secured to deliver an employment program in 2008-2009.

In the initial phase of this project, Whitelion will focus on establishing and developing its employment programs for target clients in South Australia. The programs will generate community participation and work in the first instance with young people from the Youth Justice System or at risk of entering it, providing them with work-ready skills and employment opportunities. With a job and positive relationships, the antisocial behaviour of these young people can be reduced, along with the level of crime.

The project will initially focus on the district areas to the north and north-west of Adelaide, particularly in the high need areas of Port Adelaide, Salisbury and Elizabeth. Targets for successful employment outcomes in the four metro regions have been agreed with South Australia Works, one of the funding providers.

In later phases and subsequent projects, pending funding and local analysis of need, Whitelion will introduce more of its proven programs, eg. role modelling, mentoring, and indigenous programs, outreach services and prevention programs in rural and metropolitan communities.

A South Australian Reference Group will oversee Whitelion’s development in South Australia.