Media Release by Senator the Hon Mark Arbib

AFL Supporting Homeless Youth in Melbourne

Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness and Minister for Sport Mark Arbib today visited Ladder, a charity the AFL and its players are supporting, which assists young people at risk of homelessness.

The Minister launched Ladder’s Christmas appeal and then met with young people participating in STREAT’s social enterprise for homeless youth. 

Senator Arbib, an ambassador for Ladder, was joined by Chairman of the AFL Foundation Colin Carter, AFL Players’ Association CEO Matt Finnis, Ladder General Manager Mark Bolton, Ladder Ambassador Matthew Lloyd, Richmond player Daniel Jackson former Essendon player Jason Johnson, and the Melbourne Vixen’s Sarah Wall.

Ladder, a new youth homelessness service established by a group of former AFL players who took on the challenge to address youth homelessness, is based on the successful Foyer models used in the United Kingdom and France.

Visiting the 12 furnished self-contained studio apartments run by Ladder, Senator Arbib said Ladder gave homeless young people the support to break the cycle of homelessness and establish a stable home.

“I commend the AFL for their investment in young people facing homelessness as Ladder gives them not only a roof over their heads, but a chance to turn their lives around and realise their potential,” Senator Arbib said.

“There is 24-hour support, as well as life skills support, job training, employment opportunities and social, sporting and cultural activities.

“What makes Ladder unique is the opportunity for young people to receive mentoring from past and present AFL players and elite female athletes from several sporting codes.

“Seeing what this project has achieved in only three years shows the value that AFL and elite sport can add when dealing with issues such as homelessness.”

Construction is almost complete on a Ladder site for homeless young people in Adelaide, which received $7.3 million through the joint Australian and State government initiative, A Place to Call Home.

While in Melbourne Senator Arbib also took the opportunity to visit one of Ladder’s close allies, the STREAT program.  

STREAT is a social enterprise that uses a fleet of mobile street coffee and food carts to provide training, employment and social support for young people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Senator Arbib said through STREAT, young people receive six-months training and paid employment for 26 hours a week, a Certificate II in Hospitality and support from a clinical psychologist and two youth workers. They also receive job search assistance when they graduate.

“STREAT helps young people break the cycle of homelessness by teaching them crucial life and work skills to help them live independently and with confidence,” Senator Arbib said.

“Eight young people graduated this year, and next year this is expected to grow to 40 young people who will receive more than 20,000 hours of employment and serve more than 1,000 customers each day.

“STREAT has received $2.1 million through the Australian Government’s Jobs Fund, which recognises the opportunities it provides disadvantaged job seekers.”

Senator Arbib said the programs he visited in Melbourne highlighted the importance of youth homelessness and the good work that was being done to end the cycle.

“Of the 105,000 Australians who are homeless on any given night, 43 per cent are under 25. This includes more than 6,000 young people in Victoria,” Senator Arbib said.

“The Australian Government has made tackling homelessness a national priority – investing almost $5 billion in new funding on this important issue.

“We are working towards two ambitious goals by 2020; to halve homelessness and provide accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it.

“These projects deserve recognition for the positive impact they are having on the lives of young people. They also demonstrate what partnerships between government, business, sport and the community can achieve.”

To donate to Ladder’s Christmas appeal, visit Ladder website