Brotherhood in new partnership to tackle youth homelessness, unemployment

Brotherhood joins forces to Foyer Foundation for two year partnership

By Chris Shearer

October 26 2017The Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Foyer Foundation yesterday announced a two year partnership aimed at improving the prospects of young people who are or find themselves at risk of homelessness.

The partnership will see the two organisations work together on measures including creating a “community of practice” for agencies which run youth foyers in Australia.

Youth foyers integrate housing, education, health and employment services for young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. There are 14 foyers or foyer-type services across Australia, accommodating between 10-110 young people each.

Homeless youth in Australia experience unemployment at more than nine times the national average and four times the overall youth unemployment rate with about 55% our of work, according to a study released in April.

Chair of the Foyer Foundation, Keith Bryant, said his organisation was looking forward to working with the Brotherhood to strengthen the foyer movement across Australia.

“The partnership will drive the growth of youth foyers in Australia through measures that include research and policy development and developing nationally consistent processes, including accreditation for new foyers,” he said.

Mr Bryant told TMA that the Brotherhood contributed $100,000 to the partnership on the basis that the Foyer Foundation match it, which they were able to achieve through philanthropic support.

“The idea is that $200,000 is working capital for the next couple of years,” he said.

“It’s a way for us in the next couple of months to hire our first executive officer. It will be a part time role but it will be based at the Brotherhood’s office and work under a Brotherhood system of some sort as we agree on a partnership. But the idea is working with the executive office and the board of the Foyer Foundation to build a sustainable funding model.”

The Brotherhood’s Principal Advisor on youth Transitions, Sally James, said that the partnership will also be working with governments at the state and federal level, along with local communities “to get a better deal for a group of young people who don’t have the opportunities for decent education and employment”.

“Young people who complete educational qualifications are much more likely to have the capacity to find ongoing work. Research by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Melbourne Institute finds that early school leavers experience social exclusion at almost three times the rate of those who have completed Year 12,” she said.

The Brotherhood’s Executive Director, Tony Nicholson, said he was delighted to work more closely with the Foyer Foundation.

“Our own involvement in developing and establishing youth foyers in Victoria shows how effective they are in helping young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to study and work towards independent adulthoods while living in customised accommodation,” he said.