Homeless young people will have a roof over their heads and expert support to help them build successful lives, after the official opening of The Old Church Youth Accommodation at Nambour last week.
The Integrated Youth and Family Service (IFYS) refurbished the former meetinghouse complex of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in response to inadequate accommodation options across the region for young people trying to transition away from homelessness.
The Old Church includes 21 rooms for youth, each with a full ensuite, split-system air-conditioner, new paint and carpet, and a window.
IFYS operates a six-bed crisis facility for young people in need on the Sunshine Coast, and a further five beds in Caboolture, so The Old Church dramatically increases the available support to those in need.
“In bringing back the church, we will offer 21 safe and secure beds to young people aged 16 to 24 across the Sunshine Coast,” IFYS managing director Tony Pignata told guests at the opening.
“The Old Church is an integrated model that combined biological, cultural, economic, physiological and social factors.
“It cuts across a number of disciplines and ensures young people are not only being protected from the elements, but they are offered holistic support and care to ensure that we move them from homelessness to a position of being educated or employed – a significant protective factor in anyone’s life.
“The model will be supported 24/7 by staff, and will have a focus on education and employment and social interactions for those young people.
“They may stay for as brief a period as three months or perhaps two years until they can establish themselves in housing and some independent life skills, which to you and I might be incredible, but it’ll be things like washing their sheets, washing their clothes, having some idea of nutrition and to be able to cook for themselves.”
The facility and support program aims to help young people to build careers and to ultimately transition to their own accommodation. Member for Fairfax Ted O’Brien officially opened the facilities on June 29.
Mr O’Brien had announced $790,834 in Australian government funding for the project in April 2022, to provide support for residents with a particular focus on ‘learning and earning’ activities to strengthen a young person’s employment options.
“Many people came to this very facility over the years to offer prayers and, in the future, young people will come to this same facility to have their prayers answered, and I think that’s pretty special,” Mr O’Brien said at the opening.
Mr Pignata noted the high levels of homelessness among youth on the Sunshine Coast, adding that a safe and caring environment is vital to help young people live and build better lives and become active and functioning members of our community.