Youth specialist AOD services expand at Youth Projects as part of statewide call Youth Projects has expanded its high impact, youth-specialist Alcohol and Other Drugs program – YNOT – into Melbourne’s north-east as part of a statewide call for more AOD support alongside 14 other State Government funded Youth AOD service providers in Victoria. “We’re seeing a significant back log on waiting lists and need more skilled staff out there supporting young people who have suffered during the pandemic. This agile model is critical as we outreach, meaning we don’t wait for young people to come to us - we go to them” shares Ben Vasiliou, CEO of Youth Projects. In 2021, Youth Projects experienced an 80% increase in referrals to our youth-specialist Alcohol and Other Drug services for 18 to 25-year-olds, and a 100% increase in referrals from people under 18-years-old. Young people who’d usually manage their mental health by hitting the gym, seeing friends and keeping themselves busy were being referred to Youth Projects with significant substance misuse issues, self-harming behaviours and even psychosis. Proud lesbian and Aboriginal woman, Jessie (19), was one of the young people referred to YNOT in 2021. Jessie required support with her excessive cannabis and alcohol use, and the subsequent effects on Jessie’s mental health including anxiety and depression. Youth Projects’ YNOT team have since been able to support Jessie in achieving attainable goals, access ongoing youth-specialist AOD support, better manage her mental health through counselling and navigating harm minimisation, refusal and relapse strategies. Unfortunately, there are many more young people out there still – sitting on unrealistic waitlists, or even struggling to access services at all. The investment in additional staffing resources will enable Youth Projects to address the needs of young people, whilst working with a state-wide coalition of Youth AOD providers to ensure we share and learn from best practice. Youth Projects is currently recruiting additional Youth AOD workers who will help us deliver YNOT to young people across north-east Melbourne, with a specific focus on the City of Whittlesea. For all media enquiries, please contact Nic Horton (Marketing & Communications Manager).