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We provide free, confidential support.
Mon - Fri, 9am - 8pm
1800 458 685
Worried about someone you care about? NEED HELP NOW?

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Alternatively you can contact us by:
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Fitzroy Victoria 3065

Tel: +61 3 9415 8881
Fax: +61 3 9415 8882
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It’s likely that your child has already been exposed to drugs and alcohol in some way - whether through friends, movies, books, the internet or Breaking Bad. It’s also pretty likely that they’re starting to form their own opinions and attitudes towards drugs and alcohol. During this delicate time, it’s important for parents and carers to help guide the conversation. 


Speak to your child from a place of knowledge, rather than relying on myths and speculation. To get the facts, head to the drugs section of our website.


If you exaggerate the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol, chances are you’ll lose credibility with your child. Non-judgmental, informed language can often be the most effective.

Think of it as a conversation rather than a lecture.

Allow your child the opportunity to share his or her thoughts on the topic. Ask questions and listen to their responses calmly and respectfully. Think of it as a conversation rather than a lecture.


Be clear with your child about your beliefs surrounding drugs and alcohol. Let them know where you stand on the issue and set boundaries accordingly. It can also help to outline the consequences if those boundaries are broken.

If you have any questions you can call us on our 24 hour free YoDAA Line: 1800 458 685.

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It’s upsetting to see someone you love suffer. You can often feel frustrated and helpless, like there’s no way of getting through to them.

But right now is the time your love and support is as vital as ever, even if it doesn’t seem to matter to the person you care about. Here are some ways to offer support to a loved one who is struggling.


Listening can be a powerful support tool. Let the person know you’re always there if they need to talk. If your loved one opens up to you about what he or she is going through, give them your full attention. Try to listen openly and positively, without judgment. You may not have the answers, but it can often provide enormous support to someone just to feel like they’re being heard. Ask your loved one what you can do to help them during the difficult times and let them know they are not alone.


Whether the person you care about is living with drug dependence, showing signs of depression or any other challenging situation, find out as much as you can on the topic to help you better understand what they’re dealing with. There is a wealth of information available to you online, or you can call us directly on the 24 hour free YoDAA Line: 1800 458 685.

Find out as much as you can on the topic to help you better understand what they’re dealing with

If the person isn’t showing any signs of improvement, it could be time to suggest professional help. Recommending they see their local doctor is a good first step, and a relatively non-invasive one. It can be a sensitive topic to bring up, so it’s important to approach with caution. It’s often best to wait until you’re both calm before making the suggestion, as opposed to raising it during a fight when emotions are high. Offering to come along with them to their first appointment can make the experience feel less overwhelming.


When it comes to caring for a loved one going through tough times, knowing when to take a step back is also really important. If the person doesn’t want to see a counsellor, don’t push the issue, because it may put them off seeking help altogether. Try to remain patient and offer a consistent level of support when needed.

If you’re worried the person you’re caring for is at risk of harming themselves call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For anything else posing an immediate danger call 000 for assistance. 


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Young people having issues with substance use may display similar types of behaviour, however it is important to remember that the underlying issues can be complex and will vary from person to person.

Using alcohol or drugs to deal with personal problems is an incredibly common motivation. If someone you know is struggling with personal issues and has increased their alcohol consumption or drug use in hopes of distracting themselves from their troubles, this is a worrying sign. Let your friend know you’re there if they need to talk to someone, reassuring them that you care. It may be worth talking to them about why they're using and discussing the underlying issues that may be triggering the substance use, or you could recommend they give us a call on the YSASline 1800 014 446 for a confidential chat.

If you find that they attempt to hide or play down how much they drink or use drugs, and how often, this may be a sign of a developing problem. Commonly, young people struggling with substance dependence find it incredibly hard – or impossible – to set themselves limits and stick to them. 


Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to identify that they may have problems with their substance use

If they are regularly experiencing blackouts (he or she is unable to remember large chunks of a night out), this could be a sign they have a risky relationship with alcohol. 

Often someone with a substance dependence issue will become detached from things they once found entertaining, engaging or interesting. If they lose all interest in their studies, sport, or social activities that don’t involve drugs or alcohol, these can all be indicative of a drinking problem or drug issue.
Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to identify that they may have a problem and address their high-risk use of drugs or alcohol. However, support groups exist for those concerned about their loved one’s substance use. Seeking these out could help you gain a better understanding of the at-risk individual’s behaviour and assist you in coping with the effects on your own life.

It's also important that you take care of yourself, read some of our articles for family and carers or go to others who can help page for services that can assist you.

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Good food, regular sleep and daily exercise are all important factors in getting healthy. These things together will give you more energy, you’ll feel less stressed, you’ll look better, you’ll be happier and your confidence will most likely improve. All good things! The trick to achieving better health is all in the way you approach it.


Start out by making small, positive changes to your lifestyle and then build from there. If you eat Mcdonald’s or other fast food three times a week, change it to once a week, then once every two weeks. If the recommended 2 Litres of water a day for females and 3 Litres for males seems crazy, start by drinking one litre per day and build it up. Making a point of carrying a water bottle with you can help.

The same goes for exercise. If you haven’t been active in a while, chances are running a marathon is going to suck, but not if you start small. Get some kind of light exercise happening every day. You might walk to the next tram or bus stop from the one you normally catch. Take your skateboard or bike instead of catching the train. Take the stairs instead of the lift. And so on.


There’s no point saying you’re only going to eat fish and salad everyday if you hate fish and salad. And if the idea of running on a treadmill for 30 minutes bores you to tears chances are you won’t bother doing it. Discover healthy food you actually like eating and exercise you enjoy doing.

Anything you make from home generally beats buying pre-made stuff. It’s less processed which means there’s less sugar, salt and other things that are bad for you. Find a couple of easy healthy recipes online - stuff that you would enjoy eating. Failing that, just some fresh bread with fruit & veg is a million times better for you than a Big Mac.

Don’t sign up for a gym membership if it’s not something that interests you. Maybe shooting hoops, dog walking or a dance class is more your thing. Try a couple of different activities and see which one you get the biggest kick out of.

Teaching yourself how to chill out naturally, without drugs or alcohol, is one of the most valuable skills you can have

Knowing how to unwind is super important when it comes to good health, both mental and physical. If you’re having trouble relaxing, there are some things you can do to help you chill out.


If you’re feeling stressed or strung out try sitting quietly somewhere and really concentrate on your breathing. Get a steady rhythm going in and out through your nose. This can help to relax your mind and release tension you might have in your muscles.


Instead of working yourself into a state, try focussing your attention somewhere else. Physical exercise can be a great way to get rid of stress. Try going for a walk or a bike ride. Otherwise listening to music you love, watching a movie or taking a bath can also be a great help. Talking to someone you trust about what’s bugging you can also help if that’s your thing. Shift all that stressed out energy into an activity you like doing.

Teaching yourself how to chill out naturally, without drugs or alcohol, is one of the most valuable skills you can have. But it’s not always easy. Especially when things can feel like they’re crashing in around you. 

If you’re really struggling to cope with stress or anxiety, it can be helpful to talk to someone about it. Call us on our 24 hour free and confidential YoDAA Line: 1800 458 685 or check out our Programs + Services.

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When dealing with the police it’s important to try and stay calm. Don’t resist, swear or be abusive or violent. It can also be really helpful to know your rights.

  • You’re legally required to give police your name and address if they ask. If you’re under 17, it’s also in your interest to give them your date of birth.
  • You only have to go to the police station if you’re under arrest.
  • If you’re under 18, police must not formally question you without a parent or guardian present. If they’re unavailable, an independent third person should be there. 
It can be a good idea to just say ‘no comment’ if you’re unsure
  • Police have to give you a number to call a 24-hour Legal Aid lawyer before the interview if you ask for it.
  • Outside of your name and address, you have the right to remain silent. It can be a good idea to just say ‘no comment’ if you’re unsure.

You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect by police. If you’re mistreated and would like to make a complaint, you may need legal aid. Make sure you write down everything that happened as soon as possible, including the names of the police officers you dealt with, as well as the time and date. 

For more information on drugs and the law, head to

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While we often think of drugs as either ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’, the truth is most of the time they’re somewhere in between. This means that although the substance might be technically legal, there are laws that restrict how it can be used.

Take alcohol for example, while it’s illegal to buy it (or have an adult buy it for you) if you’re under 18, as soon as that birthday comes around it’s readily available to you. And while ketamine is technically a legal substance, it’s also restricted, meaning if it’s not prescribed by a doctor or vet it’s considered illegal.

If you get caught using a substance illegally, having it on you, growing or trafficking it, you may be charged.

f you get caught using a substance illegally, having it on you, growing or trafficking it, you may be charged. However if you’re under 18 and caught with a small amount of an illegal drug, you may have the option of attending an education program or treatment to save you from being charged with a criminal offence. 

For more information on drugs and the law, head to

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Finding a job can feel like a job in itself, especially if you don’t have much experience. But never fear! There are some simple steps you can take to help you on your search for paid work.

1. Ask yourself what you like doing

Whether it’s music, talking to people, food, clothes, cars, computers, sports or staplers, ask yourself what makes you smile. Chances are you’re not going to land your dream job right away, but having a general idea of the kind of place you would like to work can help motivate you to get there. 

REMINDER: Even the worst job in the world will give you valuable skills and experience to take to your next (way better) one
2. Jump online

There are some great job seeking websites that allow you to narrow down your search by industry, area and type of work (i.e. part-time, full-time or casual). They also allow you to create an online profile where potential employers can view your resume and information.

Check out the following sites to get you started:

You’ll also find valuable tips on how to write a sweet resume and cover letter, as well as the best way to handle a job interview. 

3. Ask around

A huge number of jobs aren’t advertised. That’s because employers would much rather the person they’re looking for just appeared on their doorstep, instead of spending valuable time and money advertising for a position. As daunting as it may seem, calling up a company to ask if they’re hiring (a ‘cold call’) can be a great way to stand out, equally, if you just show up with your resume. If you’re friendly and polite, chances are the person you deal with will be nice and helpful. Even if they’re not hiring, you’ve made a valuable connection that you can potentially follow up with at a later date.

4. Get help

If you are receiving Centrelink benefits like youth allowance, your allocated job services agency should provide you with help on resume writing and finding local job vacancies. Next time you see your job agency worker, ask them for help reviewing your resume. Should you have trouble getting work due to needing more qualifications, your job agency should be able to help you out finding appropriate training and offer help with course fees.

At the end of the day, most employers aren’t looking for the smartest or even the most qualified person to fill the role. Being enthusiastic, friendly, willing to learn, a team player and showing an interest in what the company does will make you stand out from the crowd.

HOT TIP: Most workplaces hate people being late. Find a job that fits into your schedule and make a point of always getting there ten minutes early.

You can also get some help by attending one of our day programs





The Sunshine YSAS team provides the following services to young people from Local Government areas City of Brimbank, City of Maribyrnong, City of Melton, City of Wyndham and City of Hobsons Bay. 
  • Youth Outreach
  • Youth Forensic Outreach
  • Emerging Communities Project

Visy Cares Hub
80B Harvester Road
Sunshine VIC 3020
Tel: +61 3 9091 8200

View in Google Maps >


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Keeping track of money is an essential independent living skill.

The best way to use your money wisely is to keep track of your income and your expenses. This will allow you to realise what your wasting money on so you can save for the stuff you really want. The budget table above is a great way to start, just fill in what you’re spending money on, where you’re getting money from and add it all up.

Use this budgeting table to help you work it all out:

My Budget

Alternatively, there are a bunch of applications available free on smart phones; just search for ‘budget’ and you should find one.

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When youth worker Arry Valastro said “hello” to the young guy hanging out with his friends at YSAS Fitzroy, his bottom lip started quivering. Sensing that he might want to talk away from the gaze of his peers, she invited him into another room for a private chat. 

What followed was a moving, insightful and surprisingly deep conversation. The young man, whose name was Jerry, spoke about the relationships he had with his family and girlfriend, how society viewed him, and how the image he portrayed to the outside world didn’t really reflect who he was inside. Jerry cried, but Arry held back her own tears – she didn’t want to show too much emotion in case it frightened him from opening up again in the future.

As the chat drew to a close, Jerry said, “I always thought you were a nice lady because you always said hello to me when I came in.”
Three years on, Arry still remembers that statement. It taught her that sometimes small courtesies can have a big impact on the people she works with. “A lot of these young people have never had a consistent adult in their life who has treated them with common courtesy and respect,” she says. “It’s those little things that make such a huge difference.”

Now when Jerry comes into the YSAS offices, he sees Arry and says, “Hello, have you got time for a chat?”


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