The Young People with Exceptionally Complex Needs (YPECN) Program Australia

The Young People with Exceptionally Complex Needs (YPECN) Program Australia


In 2005, human service agencies expressed concern about a small but challenging group of people, namely young people, for whom the existing system was not working.  These people have multiple diagnoses and disabilities and tend to have involvement with a number of agencies and services (both government and non-government).

The Young People with Exceptionally Complex Needs (YPECN) program aims to provide a better coordinated service delivery response to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of young people with exceptionally complex needs.

The principles underpinning YPECN are: person-centred approach, flexibility, inter-agency coordination, inter-agency commitment to the initiative, utilising of existing resource of partner agencies and last resort when all else has been tried and failed.

The YPECN program is a State Government inter-agency initiative.  Some partner agencies for this programme are Department for Child Protection, Disability Services Commission and Mental Health Commission. See the full list of partners here.

Project Design

This project aims at targeting young people who have two or more mental health issues, an acquired brain injury, an intellectual disability or a significant substance use problem. It also wants to tackle young people who pose a significant risk of harm to themselves and/or others and those who require extensive support and would benefit from receiving coordinated services.

The YPECN project consists of:

  • An Inter-agency Committee (IEC) comprised of Executive level representation from nine partner agencies
  • A YPECN Inter-agency Coordinator
  • A Young Person’ Services Team, comprised of existing and potential services and supports

All these actors work together to develop and implement an effective support plan. Assuming the support plan is implemented and successful, the Inter-agency Coordinator refers the transitional plan to the Inter-agency Executive Committee for approval. Then, young people are transferred to the relevant agencies. Outcomes are reported to the Directors General of the partner agencies.

More information is available here.


There were currently six young people on the YPECN program. Three of the young people were male and three were female. Ages range from 10 to 18 years of age. These young people have mental health issues to some degree. Four of them have a diagnosed intellectual disability, two have a diagnosis of Autism and one has a diagnosis of foetal alcohol syndrome.

The YPECN program expressed dedicated coordination and a high level commitment from the partner agencies.

The challenges and issues for this program were that many young people fell between the gaps and criteria for YPECN. Besides, there was more need than there are supports and also a need for inter-agency collaboration for all young people, not just those on YPECN.

For more information on this project, please contact LaraHarmsworth