Category: Uncategorized

Youth Week shouts “Empower, Express and Get Loud”

In April 19, 2024, MYST hosted an incredible event during the Youth Week at Glenbrook Skate Park which attracted an incredible number of locals that exceeded 240 people that gathered together to celebrate our youth and have a fun day.

Activities on the day included skating, bike or scooter competition, music with many popular local young bands and individual performers taking the stage and entertained the crowds, not to mention the figurine painting, and drumming workshops that brought a smile to everyone’s face.

We were so humbled to see over 15 local services joining in on the day to support our youth and running numerous fun activities such as air brush tattooing, spin cycling and smoothies, glitter face paint services.

The local services supporting the MYST Youth Week were: Headspace, Belong, Rapid Relief Team, Rural Fire Service, TAFE, Barnardos, Youth Action, Youth Employment Services, Bunnings, Wesley Mission, Platform, Street University, Gamble Aware, Katoomba Neurodiversity Hub, Little Dreamers, Mountains Outreach Community Services.

The day was made even more delightful by the mouthwatering cuisine, courtesy of the rapid relief team who skilfully prepared a delectable BBQ, ensuring everyone was well-fed and content.

The event was rendered even more exceptional by the enthusiastic feedback we received from youth, sponsors, and members of the community.

Our Youth Week strives for the wellness and mental health of our young individuals, fostering a sense of empowerment among them. Many expressed feeling liberated to express themselves fully, and the day was thoroughly enjoyed by 100% of participants.

Not only the kids were impressed. Their parents too! Read what they had to say:

“Youth week was amazing, it was so good to see the amount of young people attend, normally these events you have a lot of adults and little kids attend but this event had a huge amount of young people attend.” Street Uni Manager

“This is one of the biggest events I have seen in a long time, even driving up the mountain, as you approached the oval you could see how big this event was” Street Uni DJ

“It was such a great event today, we have really enjoyed it, thank you for having us” Rapid Relief Team

“Such a pleasure to help open the youth event held at Glenbrook today by the MYST team, a wonderful organisation that makes a real difference for the youth in the blue mountains.” Mayor Mark Greenhill (Blue Mountains City Council)

MYST would like to mention and give a special thanks to all our amazing sponsors who generously donated some incredible prizes to be won on the day: Globe International, Dharco, Concrete Skate Supplies, Atlas Co, Audio Technica, Elf Cosmetics, Bunnings, and LuxBMX.

We are so grateful for all the support MYST received in everything we do. We can’t wait to do this all again next year and bring a big smile to our youth and our incredible local community.

Empowering tomorrow: MYST’s visionary impact with the support of the FRRR’s

Late in 2023, MYST was awarded a Strengthening Rural Communities Grant through the Foundation of Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR).

We received a grant of $20,000 which will fund a project in partnership with the RFS (Rural Fire Service) in the Blue Mountains for local young people paint murals on  two water tanks.

The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) is an organization in Australia that focuses on strengthening rural, regional, and remote communities across the country. One of the key ways they achieve this is through their grant programs, such as the Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC) Grant.

The Strengthening Rural Communities Grant aims to support projects that make a positive difference in rural and regional communities. This could include initiatives related to community infrastructure, health and wellbeing, education and training, environmental sustainability, and more.

A fantastic project that will have good outcomes for local young people and the broader community.

Congratulations to MYST staff involved and the RFS in the Blue Mountains on receiving the grant, and best wishes for the successful implementation of this meaningful project!

MYST’s financial guidance: a journey to stability

At just 19 years old, James found himself grappling with a $14,000 HECS debt, leading him to seek financial counseling. His academic setbacks from failing all enrolled subjects in the previous semester not only extended his graduation timeline but also imposed additional costs due to subject re-enrollment.

Such academic struggles were uncharacteristic of James, who had excelled during his Year 12 studies. He confided in his financial counselor about the root cause: his brother’s deceptive actions. His brother had borrowed over $20,000 from acquaintances, promising lucrative returns of up to 20% under the guise of investment opportunities. Concealing his gambling addiction, the brother gambled away the borrowed funds, resulting in total loss.

James was devastated by this revelation, especially since he was aware of his brother’s gambling issues. His brother had persistently sought, pressured, and emotionally manipulated James and their sisters for monetary assistance. Recognizing the substantial debts his brother owed to various parties, James took it upon himself to repay the borrowed money. To achieve this, he secured employment and dedicated six days a week to settling his brother’s debts.

This commitment inevitably strained his academic pursuits. Despite wanting to withdraw from his failed subjects, the passed Census date rendered him liable for the HECS fees for these courses, necessitating their repetition.

In a bid to assist James, his financial counselor reached out to the university’s Board of Studies, advocating for a reconsideration of James’ situation and a potential waiver or write-off of the incurred debt. Fortunately, after evaluating the circumstances, the board granted James debt forgiveness.

The news brought immense relief to James. While he had acted commendably by repaying his brother’s debts, the looming HECS debt would have perpetuated his financial challenges and served as a constant reminder of the hardships endured by him and his family.

Ensuring a smooth transition through challenging environments

Transitioning through challenging environments can be an arduous journey, especially for young individuals coming from foster care, juvenile justice systems, or other difficult circumstances.

Good news is that with the right support in place, this transition can become a stepping stone towards a brighter future.

For young people transitioning from foster care, juvenile justice systems, or other challenging environments, case management can provide crucial support during these transitions. Our case managers assist with finding suitable housing, employment, educational opportunities, and teach them the necessary skills to thrive in their new circumstances.

A MYST case manager provides young people with personalized support and assistance tailored to their specific needs and circumstances. The case manager works closely with the individuals to develop a comprehensive plan that addresses their unique goals, challenges, and aspirations.

Our case managers act as the central point of contact and they help young people access healthcare services, educational programs, employment opportunities, mental health support, housing assistance, and more.

MYST case managers serve as advocates for young people, ensuring their voices are heard and their rights are protected. Our case managers are equipped to:

  • Navigate complex systems
  • Address legal issues
  • Mediate disputes, and
  • Empower young people to make decisions that serve them best.

Our Early Intervention Case Management program helps young people set short-term and long-term goals. Whether it is pursuing higher education, vocational training, stable employment, or independent living, our case managers provide guidance and monitoring to help them stay on track. Participants learn how to build essential life skills, such as budgeting, time management; and develop essential life such as increased self-confidence, independence, and resilience.

Bridging the gap in mental health

In recent years, there has been more focus than ever on mental health and the importance of having the right support on offer to young people. In the picturesque Blue Mountains in NSW, where the serenity often belie the struggles faced by its youth, MYST’s efforts aim to ensure that support services are accessible and readily available.

For many young people navigating the complexities of life can be daunting. This is where schools, parents, community groups, and proactive individuals play a crucial role in referring clients to mental health facilities such as MYST and encourage young people to seek help when needed.

Schools serve as vital hubs for identifying mental health concerns among students. Teachers are often the first to notice signs of distress or behavioural changes in young people. Schools are encouraged to connect with local mental health services and when needed provide timely referrals and interventions for students in need.

Parents are also pivotal in creating a supportive home environment where conversations about mental health are encouraged. By fostering open communication and actively listening to their children’s concerns, parents can identify when professional help may be necessary. Charities dedicated to supporting youth mental health, such as the one serving the Blue Mountains community, play a vital role in this regard. At MYST, we provide young people with safe, judgement-free spaces to express their feelings, feel valued and listened to and seek guidance to navigate through their struggles.

By leveraging digital platforms and social media campaigns can reach young Australians where they spend much of their time. By disseminating information about mental health resources and destigmatizing seeking help, these initiatives empower youth to take charge of their well-being and reach out when they need support.

It is the collective efforts of schools, parents, the local community, and dedicated local charities like MYST that are essential in bridging the gap in mental health support for young people. By fostering collaboration, raising awareness, and promoting proactive help-seeking behaviours, we can ensure that no young person struggles alone.

From debt to dreams

A financial counselling success story

James is 19-year-old. He was referred for financial counselling after accruing a $14,000 HECS debt. He failed every subject he had enrolled into in the previous semester.  This not only meant it would take longer to complete his degree and start earning, but also that he would need to re-enrol into those subjects and accrue the extra cost for his degree. 

Failing was so out of character for James as he was a high achiever in Year 12. He explained to his financial counsellor that his brother had borrowed more than $20,000 from his friends, gambled the money and lost everything. His brother convinced his friends to part with their money by promising high returns of up to 20% on the money they gave him to ‘invest’. He did not tell them about his gambling problem and that he planned to achieve these high returns by gambling with their money. Unsurprisingly, he lost it all. 

James was devastated to find out that his brother borrowed money from his friends to gamble eveb though he was well aware of his brother’s gambling problem. His brother had been relentlessly pursuing, pressuring, and emotionally blackmailing James and his sisters for money at every opportunity. He also knew that his brother would not be able to re-pay his friends as his total debt with family and others was so significant.   

James decided to repay the money himself. He found employment and worked six days a week to repay his brother’s debt to his friends. Predictably, this had a major impact on his university commitment, and he could not withdraw from the subjects he had enrolled into because Census date had passed. He therefore accrued a HECS debt for the subjects he failed and would need to repeat. 

The financial counsellor wrote to the Board of Studies at his university, asked for consideration for James’ circumstances and appealed for the debt to be waived or written-off. After considering his situation, the board agreed to waive the debt.  

He was so relieved, delighted, and grateful to hear the outcome. Even though he handled the situation so ethically and repaid his friends, the HECS debt would not only have disadvantaged him further, but would have also been a constant reminder, for many years to come, of the adversity and trauma he and his family had suffered. 

MYST financial counselling offered young James the guidance and help needed to resolve his financial challenges ultimately restoring balance to his life.

Guiding light: tales of a youth worker

Youth workers play a significant role in supporting and guiding young people as they face mental health challenges as they navigate through adolescence and early adulthood. They help young people develop the skills they need to succeed in life, including communication skills, problem-solving skills, and decision-making skills.

We asked Paige Thurlow-Want, one of MYST’s most talented and interpersonal youth worker to tell us how she sees her role and what it means to be nurturing young people through their journey to adulthood:

“I support young people from the ages of 12 -24 years with early intervention. A young person may need support with a range of necessities around wellbeing, physical and mental health, life skills, schooling or entering the workforce and requiring support to write a resume or how to find employment, financial support whether this be applying for Centrelink, or for setting up a bank account and tax file number.

The role of a youth worker is to support young adolescence that need support while they are struggling with their mental health. I choose to engage and collaborate with the young people who come to MYST. I seek to understand what it is that they need to help them work out how they can achieve this.

When at times we cannot provide a specific service we will collaborate and advocate with / or on the young person’s behalf to external organisations to ensure they get the support they need. As youth workers we provide all young people a respectful and non-judgmental, inclusive space of equity and equality. Another key part of this role is proposing, planning, allocating and managing events, such as Youth Week and Community Events. This also includes personal development workshops and programs that are skill and outcome based, with a strength-based approach, that are run in the local High School setting, within the community, or at our local Centres in Katoomba and Springwood.

At MYST all staff work together as a team, we have clear goals and a strong vision on what we can offer to the Youth in the mountains. This includes -and of course it is not limited to- workshops, programs and fun events all hosted by our wonderfully warm community of MYST giving young people a sense of belonging.

Our MYST events include: the steps program (Sustaining Teen Engagement and peer support), Step Up, Stressless, RAGE ( Renegotiating anger and guilty emotions), Breakfast club, Mentoring, Love bites, Teen mental health first aid, Year 6 Meet and Greet with MYST and our weekly Drop In spaces

I am a strong believer that ultimately, by working together as a community, we can create an engaging and supportive environment where young people feel valued, empowered, and equipped to thrive despite the unique challenges of teen years and beyond.” Paige concluded.