It all began for Yes Unlimited with the first youth refuge, Broughton House, to be established in Albury way back in 1978. In true grassroots style a group of concerned community members got together and decided to do something about the growing issue of youth homelessness. Initially employing one worker, the Refuge was located in central Albury and provided accommodation for up to 8 young people aged 12-18 years.
During the next few years’ submissions for funding were successful and by 1982 Broughton House employed 4 workers. The early 80’s saw the formation of a separate organisation to manage the emerging youth focused programs and in 1983, Albury Wodonga Youth Emergency Services Ltd (YES) was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. During 1983, workers at the refuge recognized an increased need for counselling support for young people, and further lobbying and submission writing resulted in the formation of the Adolescent Family Counselling Service in 1985.
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As the organisation continued to grow, the responsibilities of the volunteer Board of Directors became more onerous. Legal requirements of the Australian Securities Commission, funding bodies, employees, had to be met, whilst continuing to seek additional funding, participating in state-wide peak bodies and operating some very demanding programs on a day to day basis. In 1986 a part-time book-keeper was employed and by 1989 one of the refuge staff was granted extra hours to co-ordinate the other programs. However, this too became insufficient, and in 1996 an Administrator was appointed to oversee legal and financial responsibilities, as well as providing a central contact point for the increasing number of services provided. Within 2 years this role became that of Executive Officer configuring the organizational structure for future growth and with the professionalisation required in the developing community sector.
A strategic planning process undertaken in 2001 highlighted a need to further integrate YES services and as part of this process the organisation changed it’s trading name in 2002 to YES Youth & Family Services to more adequately reflect the broad range of services offered to young people and their families. YES continued evolve in the proceeding years delivering programs for young people involved in the juvenile justice system, foster care, mentoring programs, working in local schools, and further integrating our case management, therapeutic and accommodation services.
In the wake of the NSW reform of Specialist Homelessness Services in 2014 Yes Unlimited was successful in its tender to become lead agent for all homelessness services in Southern Murrumbidgee. This new role saw Betty’s Place Women’s Refuge, Albury Supported Accommodation Service (ASAS) and The Place Youth Centre (later named The HIVE Youth Resource Centre) join the Yes Unlimited family expanding both our capacity and client group. Bettys Place Women’s Refuge had a similar grassroots formation to Yes, starting when Bob and Betty Maclean began accommodating women in their own home in the early 1970’s. Community lobbying for a more permanent arrangement for women and children resulted in government funding, firmly embedding the service as an essential community resource. ASAS began as a generalist support service in 1983, evolving over time to be the primary provider of ‘transitional’ accommodation in the Albury area. As the ‘new world’ of homelessness services emerged during the Going Home Staying Home Reform ASAS made a decision to merge with Yes to ensure the future viability of its service delivery.
While the reform brought a significant period of uncertainty for the sector it also saw the realization of Yes Unlimited’s long held vision of systems based response to homelessness in the Albury area seeing the introduction of our Centralised Intake, Assessment and Brief Intervention Model. Reflecting this broadening of services for the whole of community, in 2016 YES rebranded under the ‘Yes Unlimited’ banner reflecting our central belief that the strengths, capacity and potential of the people we work with and the community we serve is indeed, unlimited!