Robbie works as Special Projects Coordinator and Youth Worker at the Pivot Program and AOD support team. In this interview, he provides an inside viewpoint to the PIVOT Program and its impact in the community.
Special Projects Coordinator, Youth Worker, Pivot Program and AOD support
Tell us about the Pivot Project?
It’s an amazing program that keeps young people from becoming entrenched in the justice system, and that makes a big difference to their lives.
It’s voluntary, which means they have buy-in from the start. It’s all about their voice and their goals. The Pivot Program is not something that the young person is being told to do. Not many people like being told what to do.
What kind of difference does the Pivot Program make in people’s lives?
The fact remains that 70% of people that are put into prison will reoffend. That’s a massive statistic.
So, if we can work with these young people to mitigate engagements with the law, then the chances of reoffending down the track are going to be way less. Which has positive knock-on effects.
What kind of situations are you talking about?
We work with recidivist offenders with multiple offences in a short time frame, another is the network offending group, which you see in the news with reports of gangs and those kinds of things.
The knock-on effects are that, unless there is successful interventions, further down the track the only skills these young people will have are from connections in prisons and from those peer groups.
If the only life skills they know is offending then they go straight back into offending.
Pivot is proactive for them and their self-development, so that young people have the extra skills they need to live an independent life.
How do you build up trust in young people who have had tough lives and have trust issues as a result?
It is definitely built layer-by-layer. And rapport-building, which is sometimes overlooked, can be the most important thing.
But Pivot – with 12 months as opposed to the usual three months to work with a young person and their family – allows for that slow burn, time to be able to build those layers of trust.
Also, it’s that non-judgmental, non-biased approach. Pivot is all about goal setting and what the young person wants.
How long does building trust take?
It can take months. It can take a week. It is definitely a slow burn at times, and sometimes it doesn’t work.
How does a young person know what they want when so many adults still don’t know?
Discovering that is done by allowing the young person to actually have their voice. A lot of the time the systems they find themselves in, whether it be the police, in front of judges, parents or teachers, sometimes their voice is very quiet.
So, to put young people in a space where they can actually have their say, where they can say ‘this is what I’d like to try’ is powerful.
It is a great way to start and let them know that just trying these things, whether they work out or not, is a success in itself.
Do you have an example of how that works?
One young lady comes to mind. She really didn’t know what she wanted to do, so we got her involved in a program called Tools For The Trade and that’s like a taster for trades.
She tried a few things to see what she might like. She found what she wanted to do. She went on to another program where she was able to get her white card and her traffic management qualification, and she is now qualified to do construction work on the roads.
Today she’s been working in that for 12 months in a fulltime job, is independent, has reconnected with family and friends and is not offending anymore.
How many young people have been through the Pivot Program?
A number of organisations, led by YSAS delivers the Pivot Program. At TaskForce we have seen about 35 young people and about 100 family members.
That doesn’t sound like a lot of young people.
The Pivot case workers have smaller caseloads, about five young people at a time, so that the young people can be given individualised attention. They are seen multiple times each week and for longer periods to ensure they get the attention they need.
Is there any details we have missed?
We work intensely with 14-24-year-olds and their families for 12 months rather than a standard three months’ engagement, which really gives scope to build skills for that young person and their families.
We base a lot of our work on a resilience-based assessment. It goes into areas of a young person’s life to get them to think in ways they haven’t before. It talks about their stability, what are the proactive and risk factors that affect them, and their own agency and independence.
And it goes into areas of their life which they might not have considered before. It’s a big that’s assessment that’s done over kind of weeks and weeks.
It helps young people to move down the track and set goals. It makes a huge difference.
What about the other areas of your work?
I work on programs that don’t fit neatly into TaskForce’s existing portfolios, whether it be new pilot programs or different programs opening up into different areas.