The goal to provide a bed for every young person experiencing homelessness in Toowoomba by 2025 is looking promising but there is a way to go yet according to YellowBridge QLD.
The not-for-profit organisation has taken the lead and already organised four two-bedrooms units and helped accommodate seven young people. The next stage will have seven units providing accommodation for 14 young people at any time.
In addition, their new Youth Matters program has received $220,000 to help fund transitional accommodation and employ a case manager over the next two years.
The full-time youth support case manager will work closely with each young person, linking them to support services, developing their independent living skills and helping them to continue with education, training or employment.
YellowBridge chief executive officer Adrian Bonica said ending youth homelessness was a community-wide responsibility that required support from the private and public sectors.
“We need to take youth homelessness seriously. Toowoomba’s 11 beds for homeless youth are always full so most of these young people have nowhere to go,” Mr Bonica said.
“Despite what some people may think, young people do not become homeless by choice. The real issues are complex and varied.
“Their lives are often burdened by poverty, neglect, physical and sexual abuse, addiction, disability and mental illness.”
Young people experiencing homelessness are less likely to complete their education, find secure employment, get access to housing and forge healthy habits and relationships.
Without the right support, many will struggle with homelessness for the rest of their lives and be adversely impacted by the emotional, social and physical challenges of it.
“Everyone in society suffers from the impacts of not addressing youth homelessness,” Mr Bonica said.
“We know from experience and working in this area for many years that early intervention works.
“Providing a safe place to live and assistance to finish their education, get a driver’s licence, find a job or training and learn life skills can turn young lives around.”
Chief Executive Officer of Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland, Sara Parrott said the Youth Matters program is a crucial step in the process to help get more young people off the streets and on the path to a better life.
“Our decision to fund the Youth Matters program over the next two years was an easy one knowing that YellowBridge QLD is at the front line and has a strong track record providing housing and helping young people thrive,” Ms Parrott said.
YellowBridge and fellow members of the Toowoomba Youth Homelessness Roundtable are calling for the business community to step up.
“We need our business and community leaders to show initiative and back this cause,” Mr Bonica said.
“We have the solution. We just need more people and organisations to provide the investment.”