As a staff team and volunteer group of nearly six hundred, we support young people to make a positive difference in the world.
We fulfil our mandate by offering direct relief to those facing serious social challenges, providing education and training programs, facilitating volunteer and service opportunities, working collaboratively with local communities, and advocating for the best interests of young people.
As we like to say, we…
20 YEARS & COUNTING
Our story began in 1999. We were invited into a complex scene in Victor Harbor by SA Police and began implementing positive engagement strategies with school leavers converging in the area. By collaborating with the community, we were able to respond to the volatile situation and transform it into a safer celebration today known as the Schoolies Festival™.
In 2000, we began delivering seminars in South Australian secondary schools and in 2002, we launched our education program, providing students with practical alcohol & other drug education. This has grown into a comprehensive whole-of-school program for both students in middle and senior school year levels as well as their parents and teachers.
In November 2006, our volunteers wore green uniforms for the first time. The idea was to help identify the hard-working volunteer body more readily. The school leavers that year gave us the nickname Green Team, and we’ve worn the name with pride ever since. So officially, as of 2007, our volunteer body became the Encounter Youth Green Team. Without the sacrificial service of our volunteers over all these years, we simply would not be able to do what we do.
In early 2009, Encounter Youth received an invitation from SA Police to provide direct relief to vulnerable young people in the challenging social environment around Hindley Street. After conducting extensive assessment of the situation, we launched our intervention program in August 2011.
Year after year, we’ve continued to serve young people as a staff team and volunteer group of nearly six hundred, partnering with significant others who share our vision and align with our values. Galvanised by our faith, we relieve, we educate, we facilitate, we collaborate and we advocate.
Below we shed a little more light on each of our programs.
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Our education program is central to our work with young people and seeks to educate young people at a stage of life before they encounter the challenging social environments of early adulthood. The purpose of our program is to alert, inform and empower young people to bring about safer, more meaningful celebration.
We are the largest provider of alcohol & other drug education to South Australian secondary students and our program is available across Australia. We have educated over 170,000 students, parents and teachers since our inception so far.
We adopt a practical, positive and harm-minimisation approach and offer support to school leadership if a drug incident occurs. Our program is based on current research and we apply a comprehensive, holistic approach, involving students, teachers and parents/carers as this is the best practice model. To ensure our program equips young people effectively, we work year-round with several partners such as the South Australian Department for Education, SA Police, teacher support and experts in the alcohol and other drug field.
We are in our 21st year of managing the community-based response to the school leavers celebration in Victor Harbor, known as the South Australian Schoolies Operation. We seek to support young people in celebrating their milestone of completing high school in a safe environment while also minimising the impact on the local community. It is widely recognised as the safest and most successful ‘schoolies’ management strategy in the country. We take a collaborative approach to bring a solution that is rooted in harm-minimisation strategies and positive peer-to-peer engagement from our volunteers.
Schoolies Festival™ is specifically designed so that school leavers can celebrate together, centrally in Victor Harbor. Coordinated by our staff and volunteers, this is a key strategy to manage the influx of young people and takes place at Warland Reserve in Victor Harbor. It comprises of five diverse venues, full of fun and entertainment, and operates for three consecutive nights in an enclosed and supervised area. This strategy deters ‘toolies’ (an older associated crowd) from taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of young people and enables emergency services to reduce response time to attend to critical incidents if they occur. This environment allows school leavers to celebrate with the whole Year 12 cohort from across SA and beyond.
To manage the safe transportation of the school leaver influx, we coordinate and manage a fleet of 25 buses known as the free Schoolies Festival™ Bus Service. There are 25,000 bus boardings of school leavers across the weekend between Encounter Bay and Goolwa, and the Adelaide-Fleurieu return services. This strategy provides road safety to South Australian young people on some of our state’s most dangerous roads.
As part of the South Australian Schoolies Operation, we facilitate two stakeholder groups that meet throughout the year and work together side by side over the Operation. One group operates at a state level and the other at a local level, bringing together emergency services, councils, accommodation providers, community groups, local traders and residents to achieve community solutions.
The Schoolies Operation Stakeholders Group is to ensure the school leavers celebration is managed safely and the local community is not interrupted in their general services. This group ensures we collectively operate at the forefront of latest research and best practice. The Schoolies Operation Working Group discusses local issues relating to the school leavers celebration and how, as a community, we can work together to enhance the overall safety of the environment.
We’d like to recognise the below organisations for their investment into these stakeholder groups: Adare Camp & Caravan Park, Alexandrina Council, BIG 4 Port Elliot Holiday Park, City of Victor Harbor, Consumer and Business Services, Country Fire Service, Country Health SA, Genesis Transport & Removals, Goolwa Camping & Tourist Park, Metropolitan Fire Service, Middleton Caravan Park, NRMA Victor Harbor Beachfront Holiday Park, SA Ambulance, Safe Work SA, SA Health, South Australia Police, South Coast District Hospital, St John Ambulance SA and Victor Harbor Holiday & Cabin Park.
Hindley Street is a popular celebration area in Adelaide consisting of numerous bars, nightclubs and entertainment venues, many of which hold 24-hour liquor licenses. This is a hotspot for alcohol-related problems to occur which impact on public safety in the area. In response we have developed the Hindley Street Program.
Every Saturday night we send out small teams of Encounter Youth Green Team volunteers to help on Hindley Street between 11:30pm-5:00am. We aim to directly relieve the harms that young people face in this challenging environment and interact with 18,500 young people each year through the program.
We help to improve a young person’s night by offering minor emotional support, referring critical incidents to emergency services and administrating basic first aid to patrons. We’re always up for an encouraging chat and provide a responsible, safe presence at a time of real need to the area.
We seek to influence a decrease in binge drinking among young people through our positive engagement strategies such as handing out free bottled water. Young people are particularly at risk of harm due to their inexperience with alcohol and susceptibility to drinking at risky levels in this environment. This is why we have established the positive campaign, Drink A Little Less … Have A Lighter Night.
It revolves around a pop-up Photo Booth that’s set up monthly on the corner of Morphett & Hindley Streets. Photos from the booth are then uploaded to the A Lighter Night Facebook page where we endeavour to give young people reasons and tools to reconsider their alcohol intake.
To help improve late night safety in direct support of young people, we lead the Hindley Street Program Key Stakeholders Group. This group is comprised of the Attorney-General’s Department, City of Adelaide, Consumer & Business Services, SA Police and SA Ambulance. Together, we collaborate to improve our collective impact and compare details and data from incidents on Saturday nights.
A positive difference is seen in the environments we work in thanks to our 550 passionate, dedicated and sacrificial volunteers whom our staff and stakeholders have the privilege of working with year-round. Our volunteers are known as the Encounter Youth Green Team and come from different church communities across South Australia. They are easily identified in their bright green jumpers and are well known by young people.
All volunteers undergo training designed specifically to the needs that may arise for young people in the social environment of Schoolies Festival™ or Hindley Street. Our volunteers provide peer-support to young people and encourage them to make decisions that are right for them.
Within the SA Schoolies Operation, our green army of volunteers manage each of the venues inside the Schoolies Festival™. This means they’re on-hand to refer critical incidents, help with crowd control or site maintenance, make toasties, collect rubbish, clean toilets, and chat to school leavers or participate in activities with them. Our volunteers continue engagement activities in the surrounding streets outside of the official Festival to encourage school leavers to stay with their trusted friends and arrive or depart the area safely.
The Encounter Youth Green Team also provide support to school leavers during the 25,000 bus boardings across the weekend and clean the buses between runs that operate from Encounter Bay to Goolwa, and the Adelaide-Fleurieu return services. You will also find our volunteers supporting young people in major accommodation venues 24/7 during the Schoolies Festival™.
They typically set up a marquee in the park to provide a comfortable area for school leavers to relax in and use it as a base to watch movies, play games, provide snacks and chat to school leavers across their whole weekend. Some of our volunteer teams hold local community events like quiz nights earlier in the year to fundraise for supplies for school leaver activities.
Within the Hindley Street Program, we send out small street teams of volunteers to help on Hindley Street between 11:30pm–5:00am every Saturday night. In this context, our volunteers improve a young person’s night by offering minor emotional support, referring critical incidents to emergency services and administrating basic first aid to patrons.
The Encounter Youth Green Team are always up for an encouraging chat and provide a responsible, safe presence at a time of real need to the area. Our volunteers operate on foot with backpacks to provide help where it’s needed and also operate the photo booth during the warmer months of the year. Patrons often recognise volunteers who have helped them during Schoolies Festival™ or remember the collective Encounter Youth Green Team with fond memories during their celebration weekend.
The objects of Encounter Youth, as defined by our Rules of Association, are as follows:
To be a charitable organisation that engages with young people to provide harm minimisation support services.
To be a charitable organisation that provides support to young people affected by substance abuse and risks associated with abusive, violent or criminal behaviours, and as a result directly alleviate suffering and harm, to individuals, families and the community.
To be a charity whose main purpose is to promote the prevention and control of mental and physical disease, injury and suffering stemming from substance abuse and other societal pressures.
To minimise and prevent harm to, and self-harm by, young people associated with the consumption of drugs, alcohol and other harmful substances, sexual abuse, violence, or
other criminal behaviour.
To provide direct aid to those in distress or at risk of harm associated with such abusive, violent or criminal behaviours by young people.
To provide education, training and activities to enable young people to understand and respond well to the mental and physical health risks associated with substance abuse and other societal pressures.
To provide opportunities for young people to organise and participate in safe social and physical activities that may prevent or minimise the risk of such harm and enhance their life skills and usefulness to society.
To partner and co-operate variously with government agencies, schools, churches, charities, other service organisations and private sponsors in order to empower, care for and support young people.
To undertake fundraising activities to support the objects of Encounter Youth.
To undertake any other lawful activities and actions that assist to achieve the objects of Encounter Youth.
Our Child Protection Policy enables Encounter Youth Inc. to create a safe environment for children and young people who are treated by, or come into contact with, EY workers according to the requirements of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 (SA).
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GET IN TOUCH TODAY
Thank you for taking the time to learn a little about us and our story, a story built on the involvement and contribution of thousands of people over the past two decades. If you’d like to know more or have any questions, please feel free to get in touch via the contact form. We’d love to hear from you.