The reality of Christmas for young people in care

| December 20, 2017

The end-of-year celebration is a festive and happy period for most of us, however, for young people living in Out-of-Home-Care, Christmas may be an unhappy reminder of broken families and past trauma. Jason Juretic, CEO of Stepping Stone House, reveals how each of us can contribute to providing vulnerable young people with a positive Christmas experience.


Christmas time is a time for giving. Across Australia, charities ramp up campaigns calling for donations and volunteers to support homeless people during the festive period – and rightly so. However, a lesser focus is given to the reality of Christmas for formerly homeless young people who are living in Out-of-Home-Care (OOHC).

For some of our most vulnerable young Australians living in care, Christmas is an unhappy reminder of broken families and past trauma. For many of our young residents at Stepping Stone House, spending Christmas away from family can trigger depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

One young person I spoke to recently was feeling numb about spending Christmas away from their family for the first time. He told me: “I just want to be home with those I love, but I know it’s not possible.” 

In situations like these, we do everything we can to support young people through the festive period. If it’s the first Christmas a young person is spending away from their family, it can be especially challenging. Fortunately, young people who have already been through this experience are able to support their peers.

Some of our young people have never celebrated Christmas or received a present before (this can be due religious or cultural reasons, financial reasons or separated families). When each of our young people receive a Christmas gift from our generous donors, those who have never received one before are thrilled.

We also provide fun and engaging activities to bring everyone together and lift people’s spirits. Our young people look forward to our annual summer camp, Christmas shows (where our own staff perform in local drama groups), and outdoor activities such as hiking out to Deer Pools in the Royal National Park for a cool dip or stand up paddle boarding through the Kurnell mangroves.

How can you help?

There is much that can be done to support young people in care at Christmas. Whether it’s donating gifts, goodie bags, food and hampers or providing a festive experience – such a trip to see a Christmas movie at the cinema – any gesture can have a profound and meaningful impact on young people who are unable to be with their families.

Support from carers, peers, donors and the wider community can make all the difference in ensuring vulnerable young people have positive experiences to look forward to at Christmas.

To find out more about how you can help to support young people in care during the festive period, please contact me at jason.juretic@steppingstonehouse.com.au. 

Alternatively, you can donate to Stepping Stone House here: http://steppingstonehouse.com.au/donate-now/

Jason Juretic
Jason Juretic is CEO of Stepping Stone House, a not for profit organisation providing medium to long term accommodation and development for young people who are homeless, or who are at risk of homelessness or are living away from their families aged 12 to 24 years old.

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