Media Release by The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP

Homelessness support for young people in Melbourne

A new social enterprise café in Flemington is providing homeless young people with training, work experience and a pathway to a career in hospitality.

Minister for Housing and Homelessness Brendan O’Connor today opened the new STREAT café, which gives young people aged 16 to 25 who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness work experience at one of STREAT’s four café locations in inner Melbourne.

These young people undertake a six month traineeship which includes youth support and work experience for 26 hours a week and a Certificate II in Hospitality.

“Youth homelessness is a critical issue, with people under 25 accounting for half of all people who are homeless in Australia,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Those figures are simply unacceptable and programs like STREAT are helping to break the cycle of homelessness by teaching young people crucial life and work skills.

“This program not only gives them hospitality skills but also skills in balancing budgets, job hunting, as well as managing health and emotional issues.”

Rebecca Scott, STREAT’s co-founder and CEO, said STREAT is creating a bridge between young people being unemployed and homeless, to being in the workforce and a place they can call home.

“You can’t stop youth homelessness just by giving a young person a roof over their head. You have to address the complex reasons they became homeless in the first place. They also need to be equipped with the necessary skills to manage their own futures,” Ms Scott said.

“The other exciting part is harnessing the general public to help us stop homelessness. They buy our great food and coffee, knowing that with every mouthful they bring about social change.”

Mr O’Connor said the program has run for two years and is already making a big difference to young people’s lives.

“Not only does STREAT improve employment and housing outcomes for young people, as a social enterprise, STREAT generates 43 per cent of its annual funding through their cafes,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The Gillard Government is committed to reducing homelessness and is working towards two ambitious goals – to halve the rate of homelessness and provide supported accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it by 2020.

“To achieve this we have invested around $5 billion in new funding since 2008 to provide support services and programs to assist people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“Under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, the Australian Government together with the states and territories has committed $1.1 billion to provide new and better integrated accommodation and support services.

“That includes $209.69 million right here in Victoria.

“Projects like STREAT deserve recognition for the positive impact they are having on the lives of young people.

“I look forward to seeing more of this wonderful work into the future.”