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Breakaway Youth is an early intervention program for disadvantaged young people between 10 and 16 years old. Through monthly programs and adventures we build meaningful relationships with our participants, creating a space for them to have fun and belong. We are committed to being Christ-like in everything we do and dedicate ourselves to fostering an environment that is full of self-growth, encouragement and hope.

How did we start

It all started with Merv, a navy man turned prison officer. In conversation with different inmates, Merv often asked them the same question: “What would have stopped you from ending up here?” Repeatedly he heard, “if someone had really loved me” and “if someone had taken me out of the environment I was in - like going camping.” After he moved on from corrections, Merv worked another decade in drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs before coming to the realisation that he was “still working at the wrong end of the stick”. He became convinced that early intervention was the key to prevention and Breakaway Youth was born.

What makes us unique

We are not a one-off camping experience program. Breakaway Youth is built around developing long term relationships (over 5-6 years) with children entering the program at grade 5/10 years of age and continuing through until 15-16.

We operate in small groups of 10-12 young people, with 4-5 volunteers with each group, giving it a sense of family.

The volunteers develop strong mentoring relationships over time, and provide positive modelling and encouragement, integrating Christian values in all areas of operation.

Volunteers are carefully screened and trained to work effectively with young people, including adventure-based activities that will build campers’ confidence, self-efficacy, resilience, and perseverance.

What we do
Paul Coleman

Our Director

I have been a part of Breakaway from the very beginning. As the first volunteer leader, l have seen the life-changing impacts this program has on our participants lives. As a young man, I could never contain my passion for the outdoors, and struggled to understand what life would be like without adventure. After volunteering for more than ten years I was employed part-time and following Merv’s Retirement in 2004 I was appointed as Executive Director. I have been a part of Breakaway for 30+ years now and I can’t image what my life would be like without it.

Our Board

The Board of Breakaway (committee of management) play a crucial role in governing the organisation and ensuring the longevity and success of our program. Our governance Board is made up of a group of highly skilled individuals whose background brings experience from a range of leadership and management roles in education, business, and finance. While our Board provides general management and oversight, they also safeguard the vision and strategically plan for the future of the organisation.




Merv Landy

Our Founder

As a child I loved the outdoors and was always discovering something new. This was the place where I felt the most alive, apart from on the water. A sailor at heart, I thought I would spend my life serving in the Navy, but I soon discovered that this was not God’s plan for me. After working in the prison system and a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre for almost 20 years, there was still something missing. I had an idea and so I gave it a go. I started an adventure-based program for youth at risk. With the support of my family and friends I was able to do what many thought would only last a year. I never expected that it would last 30 years, let alone have such a life changing impact on the teens that were and are still are a part of this organisation!

Our Team

The Breakaway Team consists of staff members and volunteers who are passionate about working with young people, motivated by Christian values, and dedicated to the vision of young people having hope for their future. Primarily, our staff work behind the scenes, and this small and dedicated team works tirelessly to support volunteers, campers, and their families. Their hard work enables Breakaway to remain funded and functioning effectively, now and into the future.

Our Volunteers

Volunteers are the backbone of our organisation and without their ongoing support and care for the young people in our program, we would cease exist. Our team of passionate camp leaders, along with our facilities development team and office support workers made Merv’s vision a reality and continue to be critical to Breakaway’s ongoing success. Each volunteer’s skill set, story and individuality enrich the team, impact our youth and continuously challenge and encourage us all to strive to be Jesus with skin on.

Volunteer with us!