Our History

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Year 13 is one of the largest Christian Gap Year programs available to school leavers in Australia, with over 100 students enrolled in 2016.

But it didn’t start out that way!

It was established in 2006 by the then-Principal of Youthworks College, Graham Stanton, and Youthworks Training Advisor, Jodie McNeil. They had observed a growing trend for school leavers to apply to Youthworks College, not so much to prepare for work with children or youth long-term, as to take some time out post-school to grow in their knowledge and faith, and do some hands-on ministry.

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Whilst the concept of a ‘gap year’ wasn’t hugely popular in Sydney at the time, Graham and Jodie saw a need to assist young adults through a structured one-year program that would strengthen their faith and equip them for life-long service of the Kingdom. In its inaugural year, there were 16 students and two part-time staff.

Following a successful first two years, Year 13 expanded by developing the ‘Block mode’: a way for regional and country students to participate in the program while continuing to serve in their local church. 

2008 also saw the beginning of the Year 13 partnership with the Fijian church via the annual short-term mission trip. Through connections with the Rector at Richmond Anglican, Year 13 was able to establish and build upon existing ministry relationships in Fiji, and now returns each year to the same churches and organisations, working alongside them in seeking fresh mission opportunities. Each year the student body strengthens and contributes in new and unique ways to the larger relationship between Year 13 and the Fijian church.

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After hovering around the 40 student mark for several years, Year 13 exploded in 2012 to 83 students and 6 staff members, and grew further to 92 students in two parallel streams in 2013.  

Year 13 is unique in its focus on student discipleship. The Supervisor system, as well as the residential community and focus on service, provide ample opportunity for students to not only live out their faith and grow in maturity, but to reflect and learn from their experiences.

And with interest in ‘gap years’ continuing to rise, Youthworks’ Year 13 program is set to offer young Christians the best experiences as they build spiritual foundations that will last a lifetime. 

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When considering Year 13, I was worried about wasting my gap year. There is no way I could say this now; I was challenged, encouraged and reminded constantly to focus on God's living and perfect word. What a blessing Year 13 is! Michael Kennard, 2011