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A haven for vulnerable youth

Member for Fairfax Ted O’Brien and IFYS Accommodation services team leader Tania Larter


A haven for vulnerable youth

An unused church will become a shelter for homeless youth, providing safety and support to help get them on track.

Youth facing homelessness on the Sunshine Coast will soon have access to a safe and supportive facility with an unused Church in Nambour to be repurposed into a shelter.

Integrated Family and Youth Service (IFYS) is set to provide a holistic suite of care and support services for 21 young people onsite at ‘the Church’ youth homeless shelter.

The $3.2-million project will re-purpose the ageing building to include 22 fully furnished rooms, including one for an onsite caretaker, complete with an ensuite, basic cooking facilities and a study area with access to shared kitchen, dining and fitness facilities set across two levels.

When complete, the project aims to provide more than 7281 nights of accommodation annually with an emphasis on transitioning tenants into new independent living situations.

The Church project will build on IFYS’s existing support for youth homelessness, already managing a frontline six-bed emergency shelter on the Sunshine Coast.

IFYS Accommodation services team leader, Tania Larter, says this facility will change the life trajectory of young people in housing crisis.

“We have seen after 40 years of working with disadvantaged young people, the impact one caring adult can have on their future, their increased confidence to succeed and realise their dreams,” she says.

“The model will see highly skilled therapeutic case workers supporting young people with their personal goals, developing their independent living skills and role modelling positive behaviours.

In a recent announcement, the facility is being boosted thanks to a $790,834 grant as part of the federal government’s Safer Communities funding.

Member for Fairfax Ted O’Brien says the Sunshine Coast property boom, coupled with increased cost of living pressures, is putting pressure on many families and making it difficult to find affordable accommodation options.

“This announcement of $790,834 will provide around the clock, onsite wrap-around support for residents of the new homeless centre with a particular focus on ‘learning and earning’ activities that strengthen a young person’s employment options.”

The grant will also enable IFYS to provide training for residents of the church with a particular focus on workplace pathways and pay for the operational aspects of the program.

Following a significant fundraising campaign, Ms Larter says the project will commence within months, with plans to be operational by Christmas 2022. However, an additional $1.2 million is still required to finalise the initial infrastructure costs.

“To date, we have raised a substantial amount of the funds required to ensure we can undertake this new accommodation project, but we are still lacking resources for the final stage of furnishing,” Ms Larter says.

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