How we help Step Up Sydney Max's Story When Max, 17, joined Step Up Sydney he was experiencing significant family issues and had recently disengaged from school. He was shy, disinterested and easily distracted but it was clear that he had career aspirations with a desire to become a car mechanic and find financially independence. Through Ladder’s ‘Game Plan’ goal setting framework, Max identified the steps he needed to take to reach his career aspiration and as well as some steps to increase his overall independence and improve his health and wellbeing. Within two weeks of starting the Ladder Step Up Sydney program, Max had enrolled in TAFE, studying a Certificate II in Automotive Mechanics. He also gained work experience at a local car automotive workshop that with the support of Ladder, evolved into a paid apprenticeship. Max engaged well throughout the Ladder program, participating in all group sessions, community engagement and one-to-one coaching opportunities that were offered to him. He felt that Ladder was a safe and secure space, free from judgement, noting that he appreciated that an Acknowledgement of Country was read at the beginning of every group session, an important recognition of his and his peers’ Aboriginal heritage. As part of his health and wellbeing work, Max identified that his smoking habits were not a healthy choice and made a commitment to quit. With the support of Ladder Max was able to build a support network including his caseworker, friends and family as well as his GP who put a ‘quitting plan’ in place. He is currently on the road to a smoke free life, a significant health achievement. In line with his goals to become independent, Max enjoyed the living skills sessions where the group were coached on healthy eating and then set tasks around managing a budget, cooking a healthy meal and cleaning together. Max’s capability in this area grew exponentially, and he began cooking for himself at home and packing a lunchbox to bring to TAFE and the Ladder program. Max also achieved his goal of obtaining a learner’s driver’s licence and has commenced his driving practice. He has increased his ability to navigate the public transport system which has a played a role in his increased sense of independence. Throughout his time with Ladder, Max’s confidence grew dramatically. He began reading out presentation slides and directing program activities. He developed positive relationships with his peers and created a new friendship group. Max’s independence, social skills and overall goal progression has impressed the Ladder staff and many others around him. He is currently enjoying living in an independent home where he often makes home cooked meals and keeps his house clean. Max has continued going to TAFE to complete his Automotive Apprenticeship.