Circus program to help vulnerable young people

Published on 30 Jun 2020


A program which uses the rich environment of circus as a tool to assist vulnerable young people develop positive relationships recently kicked off at CircusWA with help from APM Communities.

Gina Knight, from APM's Community Capacity Builder team, said Circulate Y16+ was an innovative inclusion program supporting young adults aged 16 to 25 years who are at risk of, or who have recently been, socially disengaged, to participate in circus training.

Through participation in CircusWA’s program young people will be offered a supportive, non-institutionalised path to community engagement.

Mental health first aid workshops were delivered by FremantleMind to CircusWA staff in March to prepare the organisation to better refine and deliver this program. The circus trainers who participated will soon work with these young adults at risk.

“In the first year introductory workshops and scholarships will give individuals an opportunity to attend weekly training at the Freo Big Top to develop strength, fitness, and social engagement. Throughout the year they will be offered opportunities to volunteer on events and participate in working bees”.

Gina said there was a raft of national and international research supporting the social and developmental benefits of circus for the growth of resilience in young people. Included in this research is a seminal PhD written by one of the CircusWA founders.

“In 2004, the world’s first PhD on circus was written by Perth based circus trainer, performer and educator Reg Bolton - “Why Circus Works: How the values and structures of circus make it a significant developmental experience for young people”.

This research underpins CircusWA’s programming and awareness that circus training is a powerful tool for development and recovery.

Gina said APM assisted CircusWA in receiving funding from the City of Fremantle and Community Living Participation Grant for their 2020 pilot program.

“If the pilot is successful, additional funding will be sought to continue the program for two subsequent years and will include a research paper to assess the benefits,” Gina said.

As part of the NDIS Partners in the Community program, APM Communities help people with disability in several regions in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory to access support.

For more information about accessing NDIS and other support for people with disability, contact APM Communities on 1800 276 522 or email