Youth Off The Streets

Youth Off The Streets

Youth Off The Streets supports chronically homeless and drug addicted young Australians as they work to turn their lives around.

It is our goal that these young people will leave our care drug free, with a high school education, living skills and a full or part time job in hand.

Based on the philosophy that every young person has greatness within, these programs are non-denominational and non-discriminatory.


Youth Off The Streets is a community organisation working for young people who are chronically homeless, drug dependent and recovering from abuse. We support these young people as they work to turn their lives around and overcome immense personal traumas such as neglect and physical, psychological and emotional abuse.

Since opening in 1991, Youth Off The Streets has grown from a single foodvan delivering meals to young homeless people on the streets of Kings Cross to a major youth specific agency providing a wide range of services offering a full continuum of care.

We provide crisis care for young people still living on the streets with our food van, youth refuge and outreach programs. We also operate an innovative drug and alcohol program specifically designed for young people. Our accredited independent high schools in Surry Hills, the Southern Highlands and Merrylands, provide flexible educational opportunities and support for young people living on the streets or who are unable to attend mainstream high schools. Many of these young people go on to successfully achieve their School Certificate and, in increasing numbers, their Higher School Certificate.

Our medium to long term residential rehabilitation programs, located in the Southern Highlands and the Hunter Valley, provide support for young people who have made the commitment to living a drug and crime free lifestyle. While they are in our care the young people attend school as well as receive counselling, life skills and vocational training.

Once they feel ready to leave the residential programs we offer a semi-independent living and mentoring program which is designed to help young people engage in further study or to find meaningful employment. We support both the employer and the young person through their first year of working together.

More than a decade of experience has taught us that education is the most effective way to break the cycles of abuse that can trap young people. Our new ASPIRE program delivers innovative drug prevention and early intervention strategies as well as ‘time out’ programs to young people at risk of becoming disconnected from mainstream education. This program as well as our GetReel drug education competition and curriculum and our Values Education YOUth Making a Difference resource is now available to schools across Australia.

We are very honoured to have as our patrons, the former Governor General of Australia, Sir William Deane and Lady Helen Deane.

If you would like to find out more about Youth Off The Streets and the range of programs and services we provide please contact our Development Office:

(02) 8332 5000;;
PO Box 6025, ALEXANDRIA NSW 2015 or visit our website

Father Chris Riley – Profile

Father Chris Riley, founder and CEO of Youth Off The Streets, has worked with disadvantaged youth for more than 30 years in a variety of roles including teacher, youth worker, probation officer, residential carer and principal.

Father Chris Riley was inspired by the 1931 movie “Boys’ Town”, and at the age of 15 was determined to become a priest to take care of those kids who had no one else. He worked for the charity Boys’ Town in a variety of roles and finally as Principal.

In 1991, he left Boys’ Town and began to set up a variety of programs for troubled youth. The programs are always responsive to need and are designed to help them develop the skills and qualities that will enable each young person to regain control of their own lives.

Father Riley has implemented innovative behaviour modification strategies to help young people deal with a history of trauma, abuse and neglect including the Values Education Service Learning curriculum which is now available to schools across Australia as part of the YOUth Making a Difference teachers resource.

In 1997, Father Riley opened Key College independent High School and pioneered flexible education delivery model to help young people living on the streets and in temporary accommodation return to school.

As CEO of Youth Off The Streets, Father Riley oversees the operation of 20 programs that employ 150 people and involve more than 800 volunteers.

With less than forty per cent of funding coming from government sources, Youth Off The Streets has become one of the largest youth services in Australia, offering residential rehabilitation, counselling, street-based programs, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, specialist Aboriginal services, education and family support facilities.

Father Chris Riley believes there is no such thing as a “child born bad”, but acknowledges that there are bad environments, circumstances and families that impact negatively on our young.

“We must have the courage to demand greatness from our youth”


* Diploma of Teaching (3 years trained) Australian Catholic University, Castlebar Road, Chadstone, 1975
* Secondary Teachers Certificate of Registration No. 37378, 27 November 1975
* Primary Teachers Registration Board, 19 March 1976
* Bachelor of Theology, Melbourne College of Divinity, Clayton, Victoria, 30 April 1982
* Bachelor of Arts (major Sociology and English) Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, 6 June 1984
* Diploma of Abuse Counselling, Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors, Lutwyche, Queensland, 4 January 1996
* Diploma of Psychology, Applied School of Psychology, Sydney, 1997


* Australian Institute of Professional Counselling
* Fellow of Reclaiming Youth International, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA
* Australian representative at the World Health Organisation (WHO) conference on street children and substance abuse 1994
* Guest speaker at Association of Child Welfare Agencies (ACWA) Conference 2003
* Guest speaker at “Speak Out Indigenous Women’s Conference”, Darwin, 2004
* Member of Advisory Group for the National Community Crime Prevention Program convened by the Australian Government Attorney General’s Department
* Member of National Advisory Group providing evidence to the United Nations regarding the experience of Australian children in relation to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
* Member of National Youth Careers and Transitions Advisory Group (NYCTAG) convened by the Australian Government Department for Education, Science and Training
* Director of DrinkWise Australia an independent organisation promoting responsible alcohol consumption
* Member of the Advisory Board of the Youth Mental Health Foundation. This Foundation is under the guidance of Christopher Pyne MP, and chaired by Mr Ryan Stokes.
* Editor-in-Chief, TeenMatters, Youth Off The Streets quarterly parenting magazine.
* In October 2006, attended by invitation of the Vatican, the “Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People" 2nd International Meeting on the Pastoral Care of the Road.
* 2008 Australia Day Ambassador


* Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary Award 1994
* Variety Club Humanitarian of the Year, NSW 1995
* Vocational Excellence Award, Rotary Award 1997
* Australian Achievers Award, Australia Day National Council 1998
* Spirit of Crazy Horse, Reclaiming Youth International, South Dakota, USA 2000
* NSW Australian of the Year, 2003
* Australian of the Year Finalist 2003
* Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence and Outstanding Contribution in Drug and Alcohol Endeavours, 2004
* Equity Trustees Not For Profit CEO Awards 2004, Judges Award and Joint Runner Up CEO Award
* Rotary Club of Sydney Centennial Community Volunteer Award 2004/05
* Ernst & Young Eastern Region Social Entrepreneur 2005
* Toastmasters International Communication and Leadership Award for exceptional communication and leadership skills 2006
* Member (AM), General Division of the Order of Australia Queen’s Birthday Honours 2006. (For service to disadvantaged youth through the establishment of Youth Off The Streets and the development of a range of assistance and mentoring initiatives for adolescents, and to the welfare of children overseas through humanitarian assistance efforts)
* The AUSTCARE 2006 Peter Cullen Humanitarian Award, in the individual category, for work with refugees and internally displaced people. Father Riley inspired Australians to support his efforts to raise $2 million in funds to establish the Children’s Care Centre in Aceh in partnership with Muhammadiyah. Father Riley has personally motivated his organisation and the Australian public to focus on the needs of disadvantaged youth overseas by visiting countries emerging from conflict such as East Timor and Albania.
* Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Business Community Partnerships, 2006 National Winner (for mutually beneficial partnership with McGrath Estate Agents)
* The 2006 Human Rights Medal from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (shared with Phillip Adams, broadcaster), for outstanding contribution to human rights in Australia for the establishment of Youth Off The Streets, a non-denominational and non-discriminatory organisation supporting homeless youth.


Youth Off The Streets


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