Jesuit Social Services

The Strong Bonds Project was developed in response to a perceived need in the youth work field for a better understanding of the dynamics between a young person with complex needs and their extended family. The project also looks at ways that this knowledge can be better used in practice.

The Strong Bonds Project aims to:
  1. provide workers in the youth field with training and resources to assist them to implement 'family-aware' youth work practice in their work with young people with complex needs; and
  2. develop easy-to-use resources which will support families of young people with complex needs.
The rationale for the project can be described as follows:

Risk and Protective Factors

Connectedness with family and other significant adults is a key protective factor for the health and well-being of young people. Most young people with complex needs can identify at least one family member or other adult with whom they still have a supportive relationship. This link has not always been fully recognised and considered in service delivery for young people.

Developmental Theory

To achieve healthy development, every child and young person needs at least one adult who is unconditionally supportive of him or her. Young people are still growing and learning. Even though they are becoming more independent from family, they still need a secure physical and psychological 'base' from which to explore and try out new identities. In times of distress or hardship, in particular, they may need to rely more heavily on family or other adults for a while.

Youth Work Practice

Youth workers have traditionally viewed the young person as their sole client, with family often seen as the cause of the problem. Workers are only involved with young people, however, for a small portion of their lives. Other more enduring connections need to be explored and supported. Youth work and family work can operate effectively together, without losing the focus on the young person as the client. This is based on an understanding of how they can interact to optimise the healthy development of the young person.

The Strong Bonds team consists of youth and family practitioners working together to find strategies to increase the connectedness between families and young people with complex needs.

With Thanks

The Strong Bonds team would like to thank the many people who have been involved in the development and production of this website. We would particularly like to acknowledge the following people for their voluntary help and support:

Marg Quon
Bruce Paris
Pam Newbold
Tor Roxburgh
Bill Stocker
Glenice Stocker
Caroline Gillespie
Helen Rimington
Lyn McIntosh
Constance Jenkin
Pat Jewell
Anne Symons
Glenn Broome
Terry Vella
John Hunter
Nick Halfpenny
"I realise now that I need to approach problems concerning my son with calm. At least one of us needs to try to be rational."
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