Youth Off The Streets

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Youth Off The Streets is an Australian non-denominational community organisation working for young people who are homeless, drug dependent and recovering from abuse. Youth Off The Streets supports these young people as they work to turn their lives around and overcome immense personal traumas such as neglect and physical, psychological and emotional abuse.[1] The organisation began in New South Wales and has extended its services to six countries worldwide.


The organisation was started in 1991 by Father Chris Riley. Youth Off The Streets has grown from a single food van delivering meals to young homeless people on the streets of Kings Cross, New South Wales, to a major agency providing a wide range of services to youth. This organisation was created because Chris Riley who had enough of walking past young people in trouble.

Youth Off The Streets has helped more than 70,000 people with less than half of its funding coming from government sources. It employs more than 150 people and has more than 320 volunteers.[2]

It provides crisis care for young people still living on the streets, with a food van, youth refuge and outreach programs. It also operates an innovative drug and alcohol program specifically designed for young people. Accredited independent high schools in Surry Hills, the Southern Highlands and Merrylands provide educational opportunities and support for young people living on the streets or who are unable to attend mainstream high schools. Many of these young people go on to achieve their Higher School Certificate.

Youth Off The Streets patrons are the former Governor General of Australia, Sir William Deane and Lady Helen Deane.

Don Bosco House[edit]

YOTS provides crisis accommodation for homeless youth at Don Bosco Home, a youth refuge in Marrickville, Sydney. The program operates as part of the Inner West Youth Homelessness Services.[3]


In April 1995 Father Riley started a detox centre named the Dunlea Adolescent Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program.[4]

On 21 October 1995, NSW Premier Bob Carr opened the Better Homes Farm – a Youth facility in Canyonleigh, NSW. The farm provides a place for kids who graduate from the Don Bosco House in Marrickville.

In 1997, Father Riley opened Key College, another independent high school to help young people living on the streets and in temporary accommodation to return to school.[5]

Medium to long-term residential rehabilitation programs, located in the Southern Highlands and the Hunter Valley, provide support for young people who have made the commitment to living a drug and crime free lifestyle. They attend school as well as receive counselling, life skills and vocational training.

After the residential programs they are offered a semi-independent living and mentoring program, designed to help them engage in further study or to find meaningful employment. Both the employer and the young person are supported through their first year of working together.

Working with the Islamic organisation Muhammadiyah, Youth Off The Streets helped build an orphanage in Aceh, Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami. Youth Off The Streets Overseas Relief Fund has projects in Albania, East Timor, Indonesia, Philippines and Tanzania.[6]

In 2016 Youth Off The Streets has grown to over 35 services including:

  • Crisis accommodation
  • Education through five accredited, independent high schools
  • Early intervention and outreach through community engagement in metropolitan & remote communities
  • Drug and Alcohol counselling and rehabilitation
  • Parenting programs
  • Integration Support
  • Street Walk program – providing a night time presence Sunday through to Thursday, making contact with young people on the streets
  • Food Van
  • National Scholarship Program
  • Aboriginal Services which respond to the specific needs of Aboriginal young Australians and their communities
  • Residential treatment programs


  1. ^ "Our Story - Youth Off The Streets". 2015-05-20. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  2. ^ Parramatta Sun 28 April 2010 Archived June 22, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Don Bosco Home - Youth Off The Streets". Youth Off The Streets. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  4. ^ Williams, S. World Beyond Tears. Harper Collins 2005.
  5. ^ "Father Chris Riley". ABC News. 2009-02-09. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  6. ^ Cowra Guardian, 5 March 2010 Archived July 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine