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Sunshine Connect

​Sunshine Beach Principal Leanne Jensen – Steele signing the Sunshine Connect partnership agreement which connects Sunshine Beach High with their community partners to improve school attendance in Years 8, 9 and 10.
Sunshine Connect is an early intervention program that supports Sunshine Beach High School to assist young people who have been identified as students who refuse to come to school, or who have a high number of absences in a school term. The aim of the program is to encourage these students to remain engaged during their compulsory phase of learning. This program was piloted for one year, starting in September 2011.
 
Sunshine Connect is a collaborative endeavour between Youth Connections Coordinator (YCC), Youth Support Coordinator (YSC) both from United Synergies, Head of Department (HOD) - Student Support Sunshine Beach State High School and the Partnership Brokers - Queensland Youth Industry Links.
Partners are United Synergies (Youth Connections and Youth Support Coordinator Programs), Centacare, Focus Health Network and Relationships Australia. The Noosa Police also are supporters of this program.

Sunshine Connect Model 2013

(extract from Sunshine Connect Evaluation Report – Dee Mitchell 2012 )
This model has evolved to include a more structured process where there is more accountability for young persons and parents to participate in program. Key features of the model include a shared responsibility of all partners and a clear delineation between Youth Connections Coordinator and Youth Support Coordinator roles.
Youth Connections Coordinator will be working with those whose major barriers are external to the school environment which may include: family dysfunction and relationship breakdown, mental health, drug and alcohol dependency or misuse, grief and loss and risk of homelessness. This will require referral to appropriate support services such as Headspace, FOCUS, CYMHS, Stand By, IFYS, United Synergies Accommodation services etc. When a young person is linked with services and attendance is improving as demonstrated at the 13 week review, the young person will be handed over to YSC and or Student Support team to case manage.
 
The Youth Support Coordinator will work with young people whose major barriers are school environment related such as bullying, anxiety, socialization issues, poor relationship with teachers, learning difficulties, motivation and time management issues etc. The YSC will work closely with School Health Nurse, Student Support team and Chaplains to work through these issues and find solutions to meet the young person's individual needs.
 
The model also incorporates another pathway which will encourage accountability and responsibility of parents for their young person’s continued non-attendance and non-participation. Utilization of the Police to visit the family and bring the young person to school highlights the schools strong sense of duty of care toward the young person. If non-attendance continues, Centrelink will be informed. At any stage of this process the young person and family can opt to participate in Sunshine Connect Program to receive support. They will not be assessed again and will be assigned a case manager after being brought back to a case review meeting.
 
Rather than provide an informal parenting support program which was an inefficient use of time and resources, it was decided to utilize the expertise of Centacare to provide the family support. The model includes the six individual and or family therapy sessions with Centacare which will be an expectation of the Sunshine Connect program this year. It was identified that improving family communication and understanding is essential for healthy family function, improved structure and problem solving.
 
Each young person and their family will be supported for no longer than 13 weeks. Progress of the young person will be reviewed at 6 weeks and at 13 weeks, and attendance records tracked. At the reviews, a young person and parent’s personal wellbeing will be measured. The young person and their parent will also be provided with the opportunity to assess the support they have received from the Sunshine Connect team.