bad behaviour

A new alternative suspension program for youth aged 12 to 18 launched

The Y NSW (previously the YMCA) launches Australia’s first alternative suspension program for kids suspended from school.

Within 12 months of a student being suspended, they are 50 per cent more likely to engage in anti-social behaviour and 70 per cent more likely to engage in violent behaviour.

The Y NSW has launched an innovative new alternative suspension program for youth aged 12 to 18 who have been or are at risk of being suspended from school due to problematic behaviour.

The program aims to reduce future suspensions and disciplinary sanctions by offering participants an opportunity to turn their time away from school into a positive experience that fosters personal growth and autonomy.

Considered an Australian-first, this program was launched in Youth Week (20 to 30 April 2023), with a rollout in Western Sydney and the Central Coast of NSW.

Dropping out of school has significant costs for both the student and our community in general — costs that could be avoided by helping students in crisis reconnect to school and get back on track to graduating or finding meaningful employment.

“Our Alternative Suspension program is the first to be piloted anywhere in Australia after being successfully delivered for more than 20 years in Canada and Europe”, explained the Y NSW CEO, Susannah Le Bron.

“This program has a long history of success after being created in 1999 and has now been delivered to more than 30 communities across Canada and Europe,” she added.

The Alternative Suspension program encourages youth aged 12 to 18 to make the most of their suspended time rather than have it be a missed opportunity and some time out of the classroom.

“School suspensions and other disciplinary measures can be early indicators of a student’s potential to disengage from school. Our Alternative Suspension Program is a positive prevention program designed to counter these risk factors,” continued Le Bron.

“The program focuses on building connections and keeping the students accountable during their school absence. Students get one-on-one support and counselling from a youth worker, join group workshops and are encouraged to complete assigned school work,” she said.

Participating schools on the Central Coast and in the Parramatta Local Government Area can refer students to the program for anywhere between three and 20 days. Referrals from outside these areas will be supported to participate or be referred to an alternative program.

The program’s core components centre around the three key steps – cooling down, reflection and commitment.

Youth workers in Western Sydney and Central Coast will support participants in small group sizes and work with parents and teachers to develop case plans for a smooth transition back into mainstream education or alternative training pathways.

For more information, visit YMCANSW or email

Funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services for more information.