Lions Youth Haven Inc is a project of the Canberra and Queanbeyan Lions Clubs which was incorporated in 1988. LYH owns a 99-year lease on the 30 hectare Rural Block 1593 in the Tuggeranong Division. LYH is an Incorporated Association, a registered charity and a Deductible Gift Recipient.
The objects of LYH are:
- to provide a place where young people in situations of crisis, whether of a personal or a family nature, can find a refuge and support.
- to provide a home for homeless young people where they can gain or regain confidence and self-respect.
- to provide the young people referred to in the preceding objects with training in basic skills which will equip them better to fill their places in society as self-sufficient and productive individuals, both in an economic sense and in a personal sense and give them the confidence to relate positively to other members of the society in which they live.
- to give the young people referred to above a place in the outdoors to learn about and develop their own dignity in an outdoor environment.
- to provide places which are largely self-supporting, primarily in a farming situation, which will teach techniques and skills to the young people for whom they are established.
Who runs LYH:
- Each year the Canberra and Queanbeyan Lions Clubs nominate 2 members to sit on the LYH Board. Those nominees elect an Executive comprising the Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer for the year. There usually around 20 members on the LYH Board. Responsibilities for managing aspects of LYH are allocated to Project Directors.
- The Board meets at least 10 months of the year. The Executive meets most Fridays. A full time Farm Manager is employed by LYH and lives on site. A part time Office Manager is employed by LYH also.
The current programs are:
- In partnership with Communities@Work:
- The Galilee School is a registered, independent secondary school, designed specifically for disengaged and vulnerable young people in Years 7-10 in the ACT and the surrounding areas for whom the mainstream schooling environment has struggled to deliver positive outcomes.
- As the only Special Assistance School in the Canberra region, they provide training, skill development and job-ready support for students transitioning to the workforce or to further educational opportunities. Their philosophy is learner-centred, strengths-based, relationship-driven, and restorative.
- Some 30 students attend the Galilee School each day.
- In partnership with The Disability Trust:
- The Disability Trust supports people with disabilities to live in a shared living arrangement in a LYH residence called LCIF House.
- Their supported living arrangements offer residents a quality accessible home that caters to the individual support needs of people with a range of disabilities, with between two and five residents.
- Shared living arrangements offer a fantastic opportunity for residents to live with people they choose, meeting social needs and maximising their independence while getting the supports they need to realise their potential.
- Their trained staff provide quality support and ensure that residents live in a safe and happy home environment.
- Residents are supported to access the community to engage in vocational, educational and recreational activities of their choice and to take an active role in the home including participating in meal preparation and choosing social activities with their housemates and friends in the community.
- Currently four children and their carers live in the LCIF House.
- In partnership with southern Canberra High Schools, LYH has established the Farm Skills Program which assists selected students to re-engage with learning through exposure to team building, farming practices including animal husbandry. Normally, around forty students attend the program each week.
- In partnership with the ACT Woodcraft Guild whose workshop is located on LYH, the Woodcraft Guild has for 10 years conducted its highly successful Student Woodworking Program. This program has evolved over the years to specifically cater for high school students who may have a range of difficulties or special needs coping in the normal classroom environment. Students work closely with experienced Guild Mentors on individual and group projects in a safe, enjoyable and productive environment. Consistent feedback from the schools has proven the program’s effectiveness with improved student performance.
LYH has established four funding streams to meet the expense of maintaining the property and supporting the programs.
- Agistment is provided for around fifty horses in stables and shared and private paddocks.
- LYH maintains a small herd of around 20 cattle primarily to support the Farm Skills Program and to provide some income. The herd was severely culled during the drought but is starting to recover.
- LYH receives income from the Galilee School and The Disability Trust in the form of licence fees and from two commercial tenants.
- In 2012 LYH opened Westwood Lodge. The lodge is designed to accommodate up to 60 school children and 11 teachers in groups visiting the Canberra attractions. Groups from most states and Singapore have used Westwood Lodge as their base for visiting the attractions. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has impacted this trade badly. The LYH Board has been in contact with the ACT youth welfare groups about repurposing the lodge as a youth homeless centre.
- Except for grants from time to time, LYH does not receive regular funding from governments.
The LYH Foundation
Although the funding streams in normal times largely meet the costs of maintaining the farm and the programs, the impacts of the drought and COVID-19 have been severe, and donations are very warmly received. The Lions Clubs of Canberra and Queanbeyan each year donate substantial time and money to further the aims of LYH.
The LYH Foundation aims to encourage Lions Clubs to donate to LYH through the purchase of plaques which honour notable Lions who have served LYH with distinction, for their worthy members.
Donations to LYH will enable the Board to maintain and expand our programs for providing a caring haven and education opportunities for the homeless and/or disabled youth in the Canberra and Queanbeyan region.
Footnote: LYH was largely destroyed in the 2003 Canberra fires. It has taken the dedication of many of the Lions Clubs’ members and our partners to rebuild the LYH we see today.