Two-way support works for Zach

Over the past 12 months, 20 year-old Zach Binelli’s life has undergone a huge change for the better thanks to the support of YMCA South Australia (the Y).

Now Zach is repaying the faith by working with the Y’s Youth Empowerment Team to support fellow members of the youth cohort attending the dedicated Youth Zone at Marion Leisure and Fitness Centre.

Zach’s employment was made possible through a $2,500 Youth Internship sponsorship donated by the Adelaide YMI club, the local arm of an international volunteer organisation that partners with the Y in nearly 90 countries, to support and perform a wide range of services.

Elysse Dimitriadis from the Y’s Youth Empowerment Team said that Zach was nominated for the youth internship in February this year, after showing his enthusiasm and commitment to the Y-Connect program that ran at Marion Leisure and Fitness Centre in 2021.

“Zach was a part of Relationship Australia's FLO Leadership Team and in 2021, was a part of the Y-Connect Sub Committee for three activity days. This was a co-designed project that empowered young people to organise and facilitate the day, with the guidance of YMCA staff,” she said.

“YMI supported youth in the Marion Council area with a BBQ during the school holiday programs in 2021, where they were able to interact directly with local youth. This inspired the development of the YMI Youth Internship Sponsorship which was aimed to give emerging youth an opportunity to be mentored and continue to grow in their personal and professional journey. Who better than having youth lead youth?”

The total YMI donation of $5,000 was split between Youth Parliament Sponsorship - $2500 for five fully sponsored young people to attend Youth Parliament 2022, and $2,500 towards the Youth Internship Sponsorship.

The YMI Youth Internship Sponsorship spanned a six-month period, which allowed the intern to be mentored by YMCA staff and undertake training to further their personal skills. It was aimed to be a stepping-stone into paid work in the youth space in Adelaide.

Zach was nominated and embraced the opportunity, working with the Youth Empowerment team as a part of two programs: Youth Fridays at the Y, which runs every Friday night and is a safe place where young people can come and hang out, do a variety of activities and have a light dinner, and the Y-Connect Activity Day, which is where his involvement with the Y began.

The internship finished in July and Zach was immediately employed in the Y’s Youth Empowerment Team. He said it had been a great experience and that he now hopes to forge a career in the youth space.

“I started attending the program in 2021 as part of the FLO group and the email (offering him the youth internship) came out and it all went from there,” he said.

“I didn’t realise it until I started, but it’s something I really want to continue to do.”

Zach credited Elysse together with former Y Camping Director Amy Mackenzie for their support and encouragement as mentors over the internship.

YMCA South Australia CEO, David Paterson, said the success of Zach’s internship journey was an outstanding example of the organisation’s growing impact and commitment across the wider youth space.

“Our aim is to incubate new kinds of youth programs that we can refine and then expand to other locations in the future. The program that Zach came through, and now works to help support, is a great example of our ability to provide opportunities for young people using our wide network of support,” he said.

“Beyond the immediate benefits to the young people involved, we hope that our investment will allow these programs to be further developed and ultimately, expand to help youth across South Australia build social connections and develop life skills.”

For more information on the Y’s youth programs visit