Fusion South East Melbourne (SEM) was started by a group of young adults as a response to the needs of local young people in the early 70s. Fusion SEM has always offered a range of responsive programs to support families and young people to thrive.
A drop in centre in the early 70s in Bentleigh was a place where the team could connect with and care for young people. By the mid 70s the team were operating a community centre, which still continues to this day although having been based in several locations including Murrumbeena, Oakleigh and Huntingdale as well as its current premise in Hughesdale. In the early 80s the team in SEM were a catalyst to Fusion becoming not just a youth work organisation but also community focused as they realised that just working with young people wasn’t enough as they went home to families and communities.
Over the years the programs run from the community centre have been varied from exercise classes, food co-op, community newspaper, community meals, a range of art programs and children programs. Today the community centre receives government funding under the Neighbourhood House Coordination Program.
In the late 70s as the team were connecting with young people in the drop-in centre, they realised that some of them didn’t have homes to go to and this is where Fusion’s involvement in youth homelessness began. Initially the team, some of whom were living in share houses, opened up their homes for young people but by 1981 we had received some government funding to formally establish community housing placements. In 1985 with the introduction of SAAP funding we were able to commence running a funded 24/7 refuge for homeless young people. We later received funding for the Housing Support program and in 2003 moved into our current purpose built facility in Moorabbin.
A key focus for Fusion SEM has always been working with local schools to build resilience and provide positive adult role models for young people. Our team of youth workers go into local high schools as well as Monash University Clayton each week to provide free programs for students.