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History

The Whitelion Group

Commencing in 2011 Whitelion took the bold step of incorporating youth agencies Open Family Australia, Stride Foundation and Balga Detached Youth Work Agency into its operations.  This has created an end-to-end service offering and more efficient operations. Together we have 110 years’ experience and can help young people off the streets, out of jail and into a job. 

Merger timeline:

  • 2015 - Merged with Balga Detached Youth Work Project
  • 2014 - Merged with Stride Foundation
  • 2011- Merged with Open Family Australia

Before we merged:

  • Whitelion was founded in 1999 by Mark Watt.  Mark was a manager at Melbourne’s youth detention centre in the ‘90s and becoming increasingly concerned about the ‘revolving door’ – young people who were released would end up back on remand shortly after. The reason was a lack of post-release services to assist those leaving detention to find a purpose in life away from offending.  The solution was to start Whitelion to find young people jobs and provide them with positive adult role models.
     
  • Open Family Australia was founded in 1978 by Melbourne icon Fr Bob Maguire as a grass roots vehicle to provide practical assistance to homeless youth. After a brief time in Canberra the service settled into its current delivery regions of Melbourne and Sydney.  In December 2011 OFA successfully merged with Whitelion.
     
  • Stride Foundation formed in 2006 as a result of the Peer Support Foundation (which started in 1976) merging with the Bounce Back Foundation and Connecting Kids Company.  In May 2014 Stride Foundation joined the Whitelion group to work with young people across Australia, to improve the physical, mental and social wellbeing of young people and their schools and communities.
     
  • Balga Detached Youth Work Project established in 1978 in a suburb of Perth known as Balga to support at risk young people to improve their future life opportunities.  The majority of young people who access BDYWP are ATSI young people.  BDYWP are particularly good at grass roots youth support focusing on providing information, support, advocacy, referral and case management services to assist young people with varying needs. Balga Detached also offers a work training project delivered in collaboration with Polytechnic West and occasional group and recreational activities for young people connected with the Project.