Support for young people at risk of homelessness in the Illawarra

Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness, Mark Arbib, and NSW Minister for Community Services, Linda Burney, today launched a new project in the Illawarra for young people experiencing homelessness, the Youth Foyer Project.

The Illawarra Youth Foyer project, run by Southern Youth and Family Services, has been granted more than $2.6 million funding from the Australian and NSW Governments, under the $1.1 billion National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.

The project provides medium to long-term supported housing for up to 25, 15 to 23 year olds.

Senator Arbib said that services like Illawarra Youth Foyer Project would make a big difference to youth homelessness.

“Early intervention is absolutely critical and that is why I am extremely supportive of projects like Youth Foyers that not only provide young people with a roof over their head but also helps them undertake education, training and employment,” Senator Arbib said.

“This link to education and training is essential otherwise we are not helping these young people in the long term to realise their full potential.

“The Australian Government has invested almost $5 billion in additional funding to help tackle homelessness, which is recognised as a key priority for the Gillard Labor Government.

“The Australian Government, working together with states and territories and the community sector, is aiming to significantly increase the number of young people who would otherwise be homeless to engage with family, school and work by 2013.”

Ms Hay said the project was based on the innovative Foyer model developed in France and the United Kingdom, which provides supported accommodation to young people on the condition they participate in education, training and employment. “It is about equipping young people with the tools needed to break the cycle of homelessness,” Ms Hay said.

“The New South Wales Government is committed to working with the Australian Government to reduce the number of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness across the State.

Ms Burney said that this program was one of 14 initiatives across New South Wales. “These programs are jointly funded under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness to support young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness,” Ms Burney said.

The Gillard Government will also contribute an additional $1.3 million through the innovation fund to provide education, training and pre-employment for those involved with the Youth Foyer project.

Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird said the Youth Foyer project would make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable young people.

This Foyer will significantly help to stabilise and improve the lives of many young people in the llawarra region, and will aim to end the homelessness of young people, not just manage it,’ Ms Bird said.

“Thanks to the additional innovation funding innovation job solutions will be designed to ensure that the Illawarra’s most disadvantaged are able to access employment services and end the cycle of youth homelessness.

“The Foyer project will provide counselling and mediation, financial support services, and help young people develop the necessary living and social skills to help them live independently.”