Thanks to a $154, 290 grant from Lotterywest, Jobs South West are able to help re-engage youth back into the community after Covid-19.

Jobs South West senior social worker Kristy Zabaznow said the impact of the lockdowns and the pandemic saw a lot of youth disengaging with school and the community.

She said the pandemic had heightened the mental health issues and drug and alcohol abuse that was already there as well an increase in gaming.

So the agency has created an early intervention program which Ms Zabaznow said would bring children ‘out of the shadows’.

“It’s not specifically about getting youth back into employment but about getting them physical within the community again,” she said.

“So looking at their health needs, employment needs, education needs, accommodation.”

The program will target 12 – 18 year-olds in Busselton and Bunbury.

Ms Zabaznow said people could access the program by getting a referral, with one family in Busselton with four children already involved.

She said it was important for the whole community to take a look around them to ensure people are ok.

“You have people who are sitting in the shadows so keep an eye for your neighbours and people down the street and don’t be afraid to knock on their door and ask if they are ok,” Ms Zebaznow said.

Jobs South West chief executive Posy Barnes said the program was important because of the high rate of youth unemployment.

“I thank Lotterywest for for identifying this gap in the market,” she said.

Bunbury MLA Don Punch said he saw the value of the program after going through a similar experience.

“I was disengaged youth at the age of 12 and didn’t go to school for two years and I got a helping hand and I was able to go on get an education, have a career and have a family and enjoy a very different kind of life,” he said.

“The quality of the services offered by Jobs South West has been recognised by Lotterywest and as a consequence our community will benefit from this injection of funds to support young people in what have been very uncertain times.”