A TAMWORTH woman has spoken out against the government’s plans to cut funding to a youth support program, saying it saved her life as a troubled teen.
Youth Insearch has helped hundreds of young people in the region and has been described by a local magistrate as the only program he’s seen work in 25 years.
But it is at risk when its $400,000 federal government funding runs out mid-next year. A funding stream reshuffle within the Department of Social Services makes the program’s future uncertain and it has no guaranteed money.
Rebecca Shaw has been involved in Youth Insearch for eight years, since she was 15. First as a troubled teen, then as an adult supporting the program – now she's training to be a Youth Insearch leader.
“I was bullied at school and I had a bad anxiety disorder, along with other issues that had been building up over so many years,” Ms Shaw said.
Some of these kids come from horrific backgrounds and all they need is a hug.Rebecca Shaw
“At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it. I’d tried counsellor after counsellor and nothing had helped. I went to the first camp and I absolutely loved it.
“The program saved my life. I was suicidal and over life in general. It helped me turn my life around and turned me into the person I am today.”
She’s training to be a Youth Insearch leader to give back to the program that saved her life.
“People find it hard to believe the difference a weekend camp can make,” Ms Shaw said.
“This program works, I'm living proof it works.
“Some of these kids come from horrific backgrounds and all they need is a hug or someone to say I’m proud of you. You can see the sparkle returning to their eyes and the smile on their face.”
Social Services Minister Christian Porter said Youth Insearch may be suitable for future grant rounds. Mr Porter, who said he would “welcome a visit to the service should an opportunity arise in the future”.
If you or anyone you know needs help, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.