Dialog Box

Whitelion helps young people break the cycle of reoffending

Whitelion is a leading community organisation building relationships and tailoring services for young people to positively change their lives. With the driving vision that all young people have equal opportunities to succeed, our purpose is to give these young people the pride, courage and opportunities to change their lives.

Whitelion gives young people aged 10-25 and at-risk tailored case management and support that grows their life skills and connects them to education, training, employment, mentors and the community. Prevention and outreach work are part of this.

Whitelion uses a trauma-informed and strengths-based framework and builds relationships between young people and community agencies, government, business and volunteers to create genuine change. Whitelion has merged with other like-minded organisations in order to give young people the tailored services they need to succeed.

Whitelion prides itself on creating relationships that go beyond client and worker – staff get to know young people and build trust and friendship with them so there is true partnership in achieving change. We don’t sympathise, we empathise, and we never give up on our young people.

Because of Whitelion, more vulnerable young people are employed, fewer young people are homeless or in the justice system and hundreds of young people turn their life around and break the cycle of disadvantage.

Of every dollar invested in Whitelion, 82.5% goes directly to programs. 

Investing in Whitelion gives young people opportunities to participate equally in society and also saves the community money. For example, funding one young person $10,000 over a year saves:

  • $507,715 in jail costs (Productivity Commission, Report on Government Services, 2017)
  • $48,217 in homelessness (Cameron Parsall, The Conversation, 2016)
  • $15,400 in unemployment and related costs (Mitchell Institute, Counting the costs of lost opportunity in Australian education, 2017)

Social security and welfare represents 35 per cant of the Australian Government's expenses - currently $158.6 billion (Michael Klapdor and Don Artuher, Parliament of Australia Library, 2017). Whitelion means these financial and other costs to the young person and the community can be avoided.

Children in prison is a sign of a broken society

Whitelion was founded in 1999 by Mark Watt, a manager at a Melbourne youth detention centre in the 1990s, who became increasingly concerned about young people repeatedly returning to prison. The reason was a lack of post-release services to assist those leaving detention to find a purpose in life away from offending.  Today Whitelion provides tailored prevention, outreach and case management, mentoring, education, training and employment support services to young people at risk across Australia. Its purpose is to give young people the pride, courage and opportunities to change their lives.

Quick Facts:


  • operates in in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, New South Wales, Western Australia
  • has around 160 staff and 300 volunteers
  • intensively supports more than 2,500 young people each year
  • provides outreach services to 20,000 more young people each year
  • has 36% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients
  • spends 82.5% of each dollar invested directly on programs