Kassee Loomes, Youth Solutions Youth Advisory Group (2016 – 2021)
How long have you been part of YAG and why did you get involved?
I joined YAG in July 2016, so 4.5 years and I can’t believe how quick it feels when writing that! I got involved in YAG once I had learned about the services and referral opportunities YS offers to the young people in our community – something I think is extremely important. I think alcohol and other drugs have increasingly become a crutch to fall back on, despite the negative effects it can have, and if I can help even 1 person to better themselves and be comfortable enough to seek support when they need it I would absolutely try to. This is where Youth Solutions and YAG became the perfect opportunity to do just that so although I may be too old to be in YAG, I will definitely be sticking around to continue helping YS wherever possible.
What is your favourite memory from YAG? Overall my favourite aspect of YAG is that a group of young people can come together without knowing one another, find similar interests and draw on each other to support people around us. The people in YAG are some of the least judgmental people I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with, not to mention the staff at Youth Solutions as well. That aspect of being able to come together, learn something new and offer my own insights to help with the activities and resources that YS has to offer, all whilst giving time back to the community and gaining some new friends is definitely something that most may not expect out of joining. If I had to choose my most specific favourite memory it would probably be when I was at one of the Safer Celebrations stalls at Campbelltown Catholic Club. Whilst we were there a young person came up to the stall and really wanted to let me know how he had benefited from the support of YS and that the services referred to him helped change the path he was on at the time. He was extremely thankful and happy he was able to chat to YS again, which emphasised how important the support offered to the young people in our community really is.
What would you say to a young person thinking about joining YAG? Whether you are looking at volunteering in your personal time in some way, improving your skills to go alongside your study or even if you just want to meet some like minded people, I can’t recommend YAG enough! You will learn a lot of different things and once you know you can help people around you including your own peers, you will understand the benefits of joining YAG. If you aren’t completely sure that’s ok too! There is no pressure with doing more than what you are comfortable with and YS will support you at your own pace as well.
What three words would you use to describe YAG. Supportive, encouraging and challenging (in a good way!). YAG is a group of people who are open to your ideas and who get excited about contributing to the campaigns and programs offered at YS together. When I first joined YAG I was a relatively quiet person (and still am), however YAG helped bring me out of my shell and gain more confidence in speaking with other community members and also gaining skills with helping other people. This is the main reason why I would also describe YAG as challenging, but it is in a way that inspires and motivates you to do better and as a young person I think this is an important driver as we are learning who we are and where we fit in ourselves.
What is a key lesson or skill you have learnt through being part of YAG? Give anything a go! Even if something is outside your comfort zone or something you haven’t done before, giving things a go makes it possible for you to grow as a person. You will learn that the YS staff are there to support you or to help you through any of the training or programs if needed, and you might surprise yourself with what you learn and what you can do if you put your mind to it. I also learnt about the importance of giving some time back to the community in some way – Youth Solutions are always there and do everything they can to support the people around you when you may not realise and helping them out where you can gives them more opportunities to do that. You may directly or indirectly help someone when they need it most and personally that is one of the best things you could be a part of!
A/Prof Jioji Ravulo, Research Advisory Group (2021)
Why do you volunteer with YS ?
I’m involved in supporting research undertaken by Youth Solutions across the region; and am fortunate to support a dynamic team striving to make a difference by gaining feedback on lived experiences of using substances and accessing support from across the community.
Youth Solutions is all about youth engagement and providing effective support and education around substance usage and its effect. I share this same passion – where young people are provided a safe space and platform to learn from such resources, and each other.
What would you say to a young person dealing with an AOD problem?
It’s okay to seek support and speak to others that can assist you in creating strategies to assist problematic alcohol and other drugs problems. People working in such support roles are genuinely wanting to support your wellbeing – so please reach out to connect! #WeGotThis
Youth Solutions have a great team who continually work hard to constantly improve their services, constantly adapting and learning new ways to reach their audience. They ensure everyone has access to referrals and resources to help. I like how they work with the community to ensure their services meet needs. They have great programs for education both to schools and sector workers. I learnt so much during my time there.
– Anastasia Hughes, Youth Solutions Youth Advisory Group, Student Placement (2021)
Youth Solutions were so collaborative and open to forming a partnership! My experience with Youth Solutions in putting together the Recharge Online Youth Fiesta was “easy” – which is a huge thing when you’re working with multiple services for a 7 week event with lots of activities and content to coordinate. The Youth Solutions team were friendly, always on the ball and always open to exploring new ideas and ways of doing things.
Youth Solutions shares a very similar set of values and approaches to headspace Campbelltown – we are youth-focused organised who are passionate about empowering young people to make choices to improve their health and well-being. I really appreciate that Youth Solutions as an organisation, and the team put the best interests of young people and the community first and strive to collaborate and partner on initiatives that will support our community.
– Charishma Kaliyanda, Community Engagement & Development Officer, headspace Campbelltown (2020)
Youth solutions provide such passionate staff and YAG representatives that really know the Macarthur community and the needs of young people. Ambarvale High School completely support Youth Solutions and all the work they do for Macarthur Young people. Its always a pleasure to work with the passionate staff at Youth Solutions.
– Natalie Philips, Student Support Officer, Ambarvale High School (2020)
Youth Solutions just do it right. All their information is accurate, they focus on informing decisions over enforcing behaviour, and their programs are informative, fun and professional. Youth Solutions feels like a family more than a company. Everyone involved, whether team, board, or volunteer, really believes in their mission and that passion shines through.
– Jackson Taylor, Student Placement (2019)
DAIR will help me stay safe around drugs and alcohol. It teaches me what I can do it there’s an emergency…if you’re at a party and someone gets sick, you know what to do. The Youth Solutions team were really good…if you didn’t know something they would tell you properly so that you do understand it.
– Ben, 13 yrs, DAIR Participant (2019)
The people who work at Youth Solutions are very welcoming! They are encouraging and super supportive. I think they do great work for young people and I’ve had lots of fun doing YAG.
– Samantha McAuley, Youth Solutions Youth Advisory Group (2017- 2021)
Youth Solutions does such important work with young people in our community, preventing young people from drug and alcohol issues and harm and helping young people to manage the risks they are faced with. Their programs help to prevent drug and alcohol issues before they happen or escalate. I would definitely recommend Youth Solutions to other young people if they need help, support or education around drugs and alcohol.
– Khalid Almalki, Youth Solutions Youth Advisory Group member and Student Placement (2017)
– The Hon Tony Abbott MP, then Prime Minister of Australia (2015)
Youth Solutions provides information for young people about drugs and alcohol with a focus on preventing harm. Anything that helps give our kids the right information about drugs and alcohol and how it can affect their lives, is a great thing to be involved with. We choose to support Youth Solutions because we believe in the work the team does. – Sharon and Drew Moyle, TLD Logistics, Sponsors and Volunteers