17 August 2022

Young people in out-of-home care (OOHC) will benefit from extended funding for the successful Ladder Step Up Sydney Program, which sees education, employment and mentoring given to young people.

Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services Natasha Maclaren-Jones said the program run by community organisation Ladder and supported by AFL players from the GWS Giants had seen huge success since it began in 2017.

“Since its launch the Ladder Step Up Sydney program has been doing excellent work, which can clearly be seen in the recently published impact report and independent evaluation,” Mrs Maclaren-Jones said.

“The program is making a real and tangible difference to the lives of young people in out-of-home care and meeting a genuine gap in the sector.”

Minister for Western Sydney David Elliott said he is looking forward to seeing the work of Ladder continue to grow in Western Sydney.

“Sport has an important role to play in addressing social change in this community and making a difference in the lives of young people,” Mr Elliott said.

Minister for Sport Alister Henskens said the program, through its community partnership with the AFL, is providing young people with opportunities and access to positive role models.

“We all know that sport is a positive vehicle for social change, especially for young people and this program is enabling AFL players to provide mentorship and guidance, with the aim of instilling a strong self-belief in our next generation,” Mr Henskens said.   

Ladder CEO Stephanie De Campo said she was proud of what the program participants had achieved and welcomed the funding extension to June 2023.

“The program is delivered across Western Sydney and complements the work of service providers in supporting young people in out-of-home care,” Ms De Campo said.   

GWS Giants player Phil Davis is one of many from his AFL team who have contributed time to the program.

“It is great being a mentor to help change the lives of young people,” Mr Davis said.

“There’s always more work to be done and we’re committed to continuing our support of the program into the future.”

Tim* is a graduate of Step Up and is now one of the mentors, passing life skills he learned from the program on to others.

“I want to tell other young people to take this as a great opportunity to learn a lot of new things and new skills,” Tim said.

“It helped me budget with my money, make smarter spending decisions, learn how to cook delicious home cooked meals, improved my fitness by participating in sports, boxing classes and gym sessions, and it also given me the chance to make new friends which I have done.”