What The Good Life Farm does

Our mission is simple: to help children and teenagers who’ve fallen through the gaps and never been given a chance in life.

Some have suffered physical or sexual abuse. Others come from dysfunctional households where drugs and alcohol are out of control. We see many who’ve been bullied, or excluded because they have mental health issues.

The kids who come to The Good Life Farm get enormous benefit from connecting with our animals and with nature.

We call it "grassroots healing", and it’s what makes our programs for at-risk youth different.

We know of no other place in Australia that helps young people by helping them unearth the kind of connection to nature that's innate in all of us.

The most hardened hearts would break hearing their stories, and they echo our founder Lesley's tough childhood.

Then you watch them caring for our pigs or horses, or see their rapt faces while digging around in the mud.

It’s like they’ve discovered an inner-child for the first time, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Our Founder

Good Life Farm Founder

The Good Life Farm is near the country town of Healesville, about an hour’s drive north-east from the centre of Melbourne.

We provide programs in animal studies and life skills for marginalised young people who’ve been denied the happy and healthy upbringing most of us take for granted.

We live sustainably and believe in the simple key principles of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share.

You’d be amazed by how engaged the kids become interacting with our animals and beautiful rural environment.

We teach them about the web of life and how everything is connected.

We help them in a whole range of ways, from building confidence and self-esteem to developing communication skills and setting goals.

They get empowered by learning to celebrate our differences. We tell them that everyone is awesome.

They learn loads about the world around them - and themselves.

And what sets The Good Life Farm apart is how we do it, and what that means.

It helps sets them up for a brighter future.

A lot of these young people have never really experienced true love.

They have been judged all their lives - by parents, friends and figures of authority.

But they come here and connect with animals that have no judgement.

The animals offer the kids something they’ve never experienced before - unconditional love.

They don’t care if they’re fat, skinny, black or white. They don’t tell you off. They’re vulnerable just like the young people looking after them. They give our kids a sense of security.

What good does this do?

For someone who has never really experienced love, it will help them in future develop worthwhile and long-lasting loving relationships with other people.

There’s something unique about being needed. That’s why Lesley gets up in the morning - someone's got to feed the animals.

Young people who come to The Good Life Farm know they’ve got to feed the animals. They have to make sure the chickens or piglets are alright, or make sure their favourite goat has been milked.

Teaching discipline and routine helps give the kids a sense of purpose and encourages them to look after themselves, so they can look after the animals.

It also teaches them about life.

Some of the animals get sick or injured and die.

There's an animal cemetery on the farm where we bury old friends. By talking about death, the kids experience these events and learn important lessons.

All of this helps develop life and social skills required in the “real world”.

Many of the kids here haven’t had any parenting to speak of and don’t know how to do simple things like hold a knife and fork properly.

The moment you start teaching those things, you can see the reaction: “Oh my god, this lady cares.”

The other big thing that animals bring is empathy.

Young people who have not been nurtured in any meaningful way learn to care for and nurture something else - and from that you get empathy.

That’s very special, and very important.