Lead On call’s it quitsMEDIA RELEASEThe World’s longest standing Lead On calls Time
(Note: the L2P Program is still in operation)
Lead On Ballarat was launched in 2005 providing a range of diverse programs to young people in the Ballarat region.
Founded by the Bendigo Bank in Bendigo, Lead On initially spread to a number of regional communities and suburbs across Australia, including Ballarat. The concept facilitates community engagement in youth issues and a range of programs to meet local youth needs through mentoring and positive approaches. As funding declined from corporate, philanthropic and government sources, the many local Lead On sites eventually closed, except Ballarat. Even Lead On Australia made fundamental changes to it’s operations and the programmes it was running; it is now a very different organisation to the one originally founded.
Lead On Ballarat, thanks to wonderful and positive support from the community, has continued to offer a range of activities and programmes to young people. Facing the same challenges as other Lead On sites, the organisation recently came under the operations of United Way Ballarat in an effort to create efficiencies and find new ways to meet the needs of the youth in our community.
“It has been such a privilege to work with the Lead On Ballarat youth, staff, associated Board members and volunteers over the last six months,” says Geoff Sharp, CEO of United Way Ballarat. “United Way tried to reshape the organisation to be as lean as possible and to find new income streams, but after an exhaustive and gruelling board meeting this week, the difficult decision has been made to call Time.”
“Our first and primary concern is to ensure that the young people who have engaged with us build relationships with similar organisations across Ballarat. We will be working with groups such as BYou, YMCA, Highlands LLEN and others to ‘plug them in’ to what is happening in our community. Other programmes such as L2P will hopefully be vested with a similar organisation at some point in the New Year and discussions are ongoing to ensure this vital programme continues.”
According to Geoff Sharp, “United Way Ballarat is a not-for-profit, existing to unite our community to care for our community and as such, we are reliant on donations for income. Any spare money is immediately fed back to the community and to programmes, leaving the margins wafer-thin and without the capacity to support Lead On Ballarat any further on its journey.”
“Over the years, Lead On has received considerable community recognition and many awards for its programmes, while working with over a thousand young people in our community. United Way Ballarat intends to continue to explore options as it reviews its strategy for the community. What is clear is young people in Ballarat face some significant challenges, but sadly, we have neither the resources nor the funding streams to be able to carry on the Lead On projects as they stand. We look forward to working with the community and the youth sector to find new and innovative ways to be involved in the future.”
“With funding agreements and staff contracts all due to be renewed in the New Year, the United Way Board could not see any way around the funding challenge and decided to make a clean break now to be as honest and open as possible for all of those affected.”
“The Board of United Way Ballarat would like to particularly thank Vicki Coltman and Luke Reinerts for their leadership and commitment to Lead On over a number of years. We also wish to thank the staff and volunteers for their loyalty and service to the youth of Ballarat . Each of them can be proud of what has been achieved because at the end of the day, Ballarat’s Lead On lasted longer than any other. And in our books that makes the staff, volunteers and young people in the programs deserving of a World Record – because they truly are world class.”The Courier Friday December 13th 2013 and Saturday December 14th 2013