Youth Week: A time to reflect, seek support or volunteer

April 19, 2021

On globally significant issues like COVID-19 and anti-racist activism, to very local concerns … Youth Week (which runs from 16 – 24 April) is an opportunity for Australia’s young people to be heard — to express their views and share ideas.

The past 12 months have challenged our youth in new ways. They have brought to the fore issues that should, and need to be talked about. ‘Together more than ever’ — the theme for Youth Week 2021 — perfectly reflects this new world order and invites discussion about how young people can adapt and prosper.

More than half (56 per cent) of our 16 to 24 year olds say they feel stressed, compared with just over a third in 2017. Only 46 per cent describe themselves as happy — significantly down on 2017 figures. And concerningly, Australia’s youth fare worse than the global average on both counts.

Our 15 to 20 year olds see equity and discrimination, COVID-19 and mental health as the top three most important issues for society. These overlap with their top three personal concerns — coping with stress, mental health and body image.

Whilst the headline issues of the past year have no doubt influenced these results, some young people are struggling with deeply personal issues — grief and loss, domestic violence and alcohol and drug use in the home.

Some young people are lucky to have close family or strong support networks. Others struggle to admit they need help or have nobody to turn to. They often feel a need to escape. This may be through drink and drug use, running away from home, or even ending their lives. In 2019, more than a third of those who died by suicide were between 15 and 24.

At CatholicCare, we are committed to listening to young people, helping them feel valued and supported and equipping them to make good choices.

Youth Week is the ideal time for us to highlight the support we offer, and the opportunities young people have to get involved and give back to their communities.

We provide many programs and resources, including our Drug and Alcohol Youth Support Services (DAYSS) — a free and confidential service for young people in the Northern Beaches and Lower North Shore. It includes counselling and mentoring for those who have turned to drink or drugs, or who are suffering as a result of drug and alcohol use by somebody close to them.


DAYSS recognises the importance of young people supporting their peers. It was through encouraging this approach that the SANDBAR Crew was born — an innovative project conceived by young people, for young people.

Developed by the DAYSS Youth Advisory Group, and supported by the Northern Sydney Primary Health Network, the project aims to promote safe partying and creates a safe space at youth events. The ‘Sandbar’ name was inspired by both the surroundings of the Northern Beaches, and also the idea that a sandbank — which links two areas of land together — can help people move between each safely, and potentially away from trouble.

The SANDBAR Crew attends local events, such as music festivals, sporting events and community functions, with a mobile bar. They serve healthy, non-alcoholic drinks, and help with Opal cards to ensure young people get home safely.

The young volunteers, whilst giving their time generously to the community, are also benefiting from the experience — building confidence, forming friendships and gaining life and work skills to help boost their job prospects.

Additional benefits include free entry to events and Westfield vouchers as a thank you in return for their commitment.

The SANDBAR Crew welcomes new members and Youth Week is an ideal time to join! 16 to 24 years old interested in becoming part of our team can contact us at

At CatholicCare, we have a host of services that empower youth, nurture them and give them the coping skills they need to succeed in life.

We have parent education workshops, counselling, family dispute resolution and mediation services, emergency relief, a drug and alcohol program specifically for youth and much more. Visit website and reach out for more information.


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