Rotary District 9705
Vulnerable Youth Project
Ruby’s House is a circuit breaker; allowing teenagers from dysfunctional families to have time apart.
Every family is dysfunctional at some level. The pressures of modern life impact on the best of us.
Work pressures, financial juggling, personal and social relationships periodically trigger our behaviour, often without us recognising the impact this can have on the ones we love most.
Unfortunately, this often this coincides with the time when our children reach puberty; when pre-teens or teenagers are going through emotional and hormonal changes and struggling to discover their place in the world.
Some families move through these challenges better than others but sadly there are many that, despite the best of intentions, result in family breakdown or worse.
In Australia, a staggering 1 in 6 young 10 to 17-year-olds flee their families and become homeless, potentially slipping into a dangerous world of exploitation, drugs, alcohol and intense loneliness.
A percentage of these young people will just disappear and sadly some will take their own lives. Sadly, 402 young Australians aged 15-24 died by suicide in 2021.
What is Ruby’s House?
Ruby’s House is a Circut Breaker for our vulnerable youth. It is not a refuge, nor a drop-off point for kids already on the street.
To enter the Ruby’s program, families and their children must all be involved and committed to finding a resolution.
Ruby’s House has an outstanding 80% success rate.
How The Project Helps Vulnerable Youth
The Ruby’s House in Canberra has been modified to have six bedrooms and can accommodate up to 15 young people weekly.
Young people can say for up to three nights a week, then return to their own homes for four nights.
This pattern continues for up to six months. Throughout this period, social workers and allied professionals work with the families and these young people to reconcile their issues.
Initially, Rotary volunteers lobby Government to establish a Ruby’s House.
Once operational, the homes are owned by the Government and Rotary Clubs then help with the fit-out and ongoing support for vulnerable youth passing through.
Rotary aims to help establish ‘Ruby’s homes’ across the country, providing a dedicated home environment for young people to live whilst social workers and allied professionals work with the families and these young people to reconcile their issues.
Most referrals to this Ruby’s program come from families, as well as police, education providers, medical professionals and other Government service providers.
Many of these adolescents have nothing when they come to Ruby’s House.
Rotary funds are used to buy furniture, sports equipment, games and consumables such as clothing, food and other necessities to make their Ruby’s stay as homely as possible.
Please help make a difference by giving these young people and their families another chance of living a wonderful and fulfilling life.
The first Ruby’s home in the ACT opened in September 2022. As we write this only two months later, the success of the vulnerable youth project is already changing families’ lives. The following case studies are a small sample of many success stories.
Sleeping Rough; 14-Year-Old Girl
Anne* is a 14-year-old girl who at the time of referral to the Ruby’s program was sleeping rough, completely disengaged from school and disconnected from her family. This culminated in a significant decline in her mental health.
The program provided Anne with wrap-around ssupport, which included accommodation at Ruby’s House, a dedicated Case Manager to help develop goals and make referrals to required services, Family Counsellors and Youth Workers.
Through this support, Anne has re-engaged with school, has access to mental health support and has returned home to live with her mother. The team ccontinues to provide outreach support.
Sleeping Rough; 11-Year-Old Boy
Jamie* identifies as non-binary and was referred due to conflict. The conflict being experienced often led to Jamie leaving the family home and sleeping rough.
The Safe and Connected Youth Program connected Jamie and his father to a team of qualified workers. The team was able to arrange accommodation for Jamie at Ruby’s House for a while to help diffuse the conflict at home and work with Jamie’s father on strategies that helped him accept and support Jamie’s gender identity.
Addressing these issues has meant that family conflict has significantly decreased and Jamie is no longer in need of accommodation support.
(*We have changed names and images to protect privacy.)