Typo Station, Australia.
The following information is taken from their website: www.typostation.org.au
- "If we as a community don't start believing in our young people, how can we ever expect them to start believing in themselves?" Matt Pfahlert, Founder Typo Station.
Young males are increasingly falling through the cracks in society. Evidence points to the effects of changing gender roles, lower literacy levels and different learning styles, family breakdown, lack of positive male role models and changes to the work place, as some of the causes behind the significantly higher rates of unemployment, risk-taking behaviours, self-harm, and suicide, among young men. Research has found that young people are four times more likely to participate in self-harm, high risk and criminal activities when they’ve fallen out of school and home. Typo Station works with young men aged between 14 and 17 years while they still have a connection to an education pathway and some stability and support in their home life.
Typo Station is an independent non-profit organisation operating an early intervention, life-skills, alternate education and mentoring program for troubled and vulnerable young men aged 14-17, who are experiencing significant difficulties at home, school and in their community.
Typo Station works with up to 150 young men each year from throughout Victoria and southern NSW. Their program begins with an initial five-week residential experience on their bush property in NE Victoria, with mentoring support and follow up programs provided over the next two years. They aim to help struggling young men build resilience and life skills; helping them to find a more positive future and build better relationships at home, school and in their local community.
Typo Station's vision is for all young people to experience the growth opportunities necessary for a fulfilled and successful adulthood. An independent not-for-profit organisation, Typo Station is committed to creating sustainable community based opportunities that assist 14-17 year old males who are experiencing difficulties at school and home to become successful adults, and through a unique residential program, to build the resilience and life skills necessary for a positive future.
Initial 5-week residential experience
Basic Skills Week:
An introductory week at Typo Station, which gives young men an experience of each of the program components, including an over-night hike, pioneer skills workshops, and being responsible for daily chores.
A rigorous nine day bush hike in the Victorian Alpine National Park or Wyperfield National Park. The hike is challenging and is an enormous achievement for participants. It provides young men with a number of important skills including bush knowledge i.e. navigation, teamwork, and leadership.
A week in which young men live a simple, pioneer style life, work to a daily routine, and build practical skills in blacksmith and joinery workshops. This week aims to build a sense of responsibility for self and others, develop living skills, and create routines for ongoing motivation and activity after Typo Station.
Follow Up Programs
3-5 day experiences that are designed to build on the skills developed in the initial five-week residential experience at Typo Station, and to provide young people with further opportunities for goal-setting and reflection, leadership and vocational development. Follow-up programs include Market Enterprise, Work Enterprise, Community Enterprise, and Bush Enterprise.
2-Year Mentoring Program
At the completion of the residential experience, each young man is paired with a staff member, who mentors the young person on a monthly basis for the next two years. The mentoring program extends support to the young man throughout all stages of the Typo Station journey, builds on relationships developed during the program, and helps him to stay focused on his personal
and vocational goals for the whole two years and beyond.
Typo Station works alongside families, schools and youth agencies, with an estimated 80% success rate. Their programs are not government funded but are generously supported by the wider community. Typo Station operates under a board, executive director and a full-time staff of twelve. They also include in their community of staff the many volunteers and other supporters of Typo Station who give their time and energy to assist in all projects and who share the vision of Typo Station. Their team members hold qualifications in youth work, social work, outdoor education, family therapy and teaching.
Since its inception in 1993, Typo Station has worked alongside over 100 schools across Victoria in addressing some of the issues facing young men. Ted Brierley, the President of the Australian Association of School Principals, described the Typo Station program as “instrumental in providing successful pathways to many troubled young people in Victoria. School principals report to me the outstanding work done at Typo Station
. Without this program many more young people would be left stranded in a hostile community without options and without hope” (2003)
“Before I went to Typo I would stay home and bludge, now I want to work. It’s a place where you can feel secure there’s no big threats, it’s a peaceful place…This place helped me over these little mountains of mine. Without it I wouldn’t be anywhere – on the path I was headed, I’d probably be six feet under”. (Participant)
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION & DISCUSSION
What is your personal interest in this kind of program?
How do you assess the possibility of short-term success, long-term sustainability, or possible failure of this program?
Do you think a program like this would succeed in your area or situation? Why or why not?
How would you use the ideas here to build a program in your situation?
- Programs like this are so needed for troubled youth, especially boys, as it takes them out of their environment and can completely alter their perspective on life, on themselves and others.
- This particular program is rightly incorporating effective follow-up of students which is often so lacking in programs. Also, the need to teach job and life skills is essential to youths who haven't had a structured environment where these skills are modeled.