About Our History

For a relatively young charity, Youth Focus has experienced significant growth and continues to gain momentum in the area of youth suicide prevention. The timeline below charts the development of our organisation and our key milestones.


Click here to discover how Youth Focus began

1990 – 1993

Mr Peter Fitzpatrick and Mr Ronald Woss AM join forces in mid-1990 determined to find a path to assist at-risk youth in Western Australia.

Mr Woss recruits the founder of the NSW Youth Insearch program to WA and consequently, the first Western Australian Youth Insearch camp is held in October 1990 by Mr Woss and Mr Ron Carr (Youth Insearch NSW).

Mr Woss and Mr Fitzpatrick incorporate Youth Insearch Foundation of Western Australia in late 1990.

From 1990 – 1993, Youth Insearch weekend camps operate monthly from Araluen to Dwellingup and Serpentine to Robbs Jetty. With a peer-to-peer focus, the camps aim to enhance self-esteem and productivity alongside redressing crime, substance abuse and the prevention of self-harm and youth suicide.

1993 – 1994

Mr Ronald Woss and Mr Peter Fitzpatrick agree that it is an appropriate time for Western Australia to forge its own path in delivering youth services. This leads to Mr Woss establishing a new operating structure – the Youth Charities Trust with Youth Focus as its operating name.

Mr Fitzpatrick continues his role as Chair of the organisation providing facilitation at weekend camps as well as mentoring youth through ongoing counselling and engagement.

The Board of Governors include Mr Woss, Mr Fitzpatrick, Mr Dan Smetana and Mr Michael Blakiston.

The organisation’s annual turnover is approximately $100,000.

1998 – 1999

Mr Ronald Woss becomes Chair of the Board of Governors and Executive Management Committee.

Youth Charities Trust is selected by the government to run a pilot project entitled ‘Prevention of Youth Suicide and Self Harm’.

Funding totalling $170,000 is provided allowing the organisation to employ three additional employees.

The organisation’s service delivery extends to a full-time counselling service and part-time family counselling.

2000 – 2001

After 10 years of service and stewardship, Mr Ronald Woss resigns from his role as Chair of Youth Focus.

The contribution of Mr Ronald Woss to Youth Focus is recognised in 2001 as he becomes the Inaugural Honorary Lifetime Member.

The organisation moves into renovated offices in West Leederville with the help of PM constructions.

Gus Irdi is appointed as Chair, the Board expands and a CEO is appointed in Jenny Allen.

The government recognises the success of the pilot project and selects the organisation as an ongoing service provider.

Woodside becomes a major corporate partner, providing the organisation with the capacity for significant expansion.

2002 – 2003

The Wind Over Water Foundation commences its long-standing partnership – a cornerstone to the development of the organisation’s peer support program.

With the support of Hawaiian and Lotterywest, Youth Focus secures its premises in Burswood.

The services staff expands to cope with the ever-expanding client demand, and Youth Focus undertakes a significant policy and procedures assessment.

The Youth Focus charity house concept was born.

2003 – 2004

The Ride for Youth is born in 2003. The event is the brainchild of a number of recreational cyclists. Since its inception, it has raised more than 20 million to support the life-changing work of Youth Focus.

Worsley Alumina supports the organisation’s South West project: ‘Suicide Prevention in the South West’. The organisation now helps more than 300 clients and 40 families annually.

The Night of Nights Ball is inaugurated in July 2004.

2005 – 2006

Youth Focus supports more than 500 clients and 160 families.

The organisation has a turnover of $1.5 million and 18.6 employees.

An office opens in Mandurah, and Telethon begins its support of the organisation’s metropolitan counselling service.

The first Youth Focus charity house is built with the support of Scott Park and Redink Homes.


Youth Focus continues to expand and is now supporting 840 clients and 240 families annually. Clients are serviced by a clinical team of 25, and a corporate team of eight.

The organisation’s turnover increases to $2.7 million.


By the end of 2010, Youth Focus is supporting more than 1,000 young people.

The organisation employs more than 40 staff and has an annual turnover of $4 million.


Youth Focus services expand to WA’s Great Southern, with an office being established in Albany.


Youth Focus develops and launches an education arm to provide mental health education to schools, workplaces and community groups.

Fundraising efforts continue to grow with the Hawaiian Ride for Youth generating more than $2 million in its 10th anniversary year.

Youth Focus opens an office in Bunbury.


Youth Focus experiences significant growth across the organisation. It is now operating from eight locations: Burswood, Joondalup, Kwinana, Mandurah, Bunbury, Albany and Geraldton.

The organisation’s partnership with headspace expands, and headspace Midland is established.

Employees grow to 60, the vast majority of this growth being within the service delivery team.

Youth Focus supports more than 2,000 young people annually.


The organisation’s annual turnover surpasses $10 million.


Mr Ronald Woss makes a generous pledge of $200,000 to coincide with the organisation’s 21st anniversary.

headspace Midland launches its Early Psychosis Program.


Fiona Kalaf commences in the role of Chief Executive Officer.

Youth Focus conducts a successful trial of web-counselling in the Wheatbelt.


Youth Focus launches its Strategic Plan 2020.

Youth Focus launches a refreshed brand and new identity.


Youth Focus launches a new website to better engage young people.

Youth Focus launches web-counselling in regional and remote areas with limited access to mental health support.


Arthur Papakotsias commences in the role of Chief Executive Officer.

Youth Focus launches new Strategic Direction 2022, which will see the organisation grow and diversify.

Youth Focus releases its first comprehensive Annual Report to stakeholders.

The organisation supports a record-breaking 4,559 young people across its Youth Focus and headspace Centres, a 23 per cent increase on the previous year.


Youth Focus introduces a Vocational Support Program to help young people with mental health issues gain meaningful employment and education.

Youth Focus launches a new headspace satellite in Northam.

The organisation supports a record-breaking 6,090 young people across its Youth Focus and headspace Centres, a 34 per cent increase on the previous year.


Youth Focus expands its vocational support offering to include headspace Geraldton, becoming one of the largest providers of accredited Individual Placement and Support.

Youth Focus introduces programs to support young people with Managing Anxiety and Behaviour Exchange and Systems Therapy.

The organisation launches new social and emotional wellbeing services in Meekatharra.

Youth Focus launches its inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan.

Youth Focus launches M8D8, a campaign to educate and raise awareness of mental health issues among young men.

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To enquire about the services we can provide for you, or someone you know, please call:

(08) 6266 4333 More contact information