‘Six years of research shows this model works.’ An integrated approach to tackling youth homelessness

8 July 2019

An evaluation of a program that focuses on education to tackle youth homelessness has shown great outcomes for the young people who take part.

The Brotherhood runs Education First Youth Foyers with Launch Housing and Berry Street in Victoria. Three EFY Foyers operate on TAFE campuses, in Melbourne and the regional city of Shepparton, combining affordable accommodation with education, training, employment and other support services.

A recently published long-term evaluation demonstrates the model substantively improves education, employment, housing, health and wellbeing outcomes for young people. Importantly, these improvements are largely sustained a year after young people exit the program.

‘This is the first foyer evaluation to present rigorous evidence of sustained, beneficial impacts,’ says Professor Shelley Mallet, Director of the Brotherhood’s Research and Policy Centre.

A report by Professor Mallett and Brotherhood researchers, Marion Coddou and Joseph Borlagdan, finds many benefits in key areas, including:

EFY Foyers developed young people’s living skills and supported them to access decent housing.

Big improvements in their housing independence at exit further improved a year later. The percentage living in their own place (renting or owning) increased from 7% at entry to 43% at exit, and to 51% a year later. Meanwhile, the percentage sleeping rough or living in crisis accommodation, treatment centres or detention declined from 32% at entry to 3% at exit, and to 2% a year later.

EFY Foyers enabled young people to pursue education qualifications necessary for sustainable employment. In total, about 70% of participants had either achieved a higher qualification or were still enrolled a year after exit. Of those who had not completed a higher education qualification, 70% were still enrolled a year after exit.

EFY Foyer staff created opportunities for young people to find internships, work experience, mentors and jobs aligned with their goals and plans. In the year after exit, about 85% of participants worked or studied. The percentage of participants employed, including in part-time or casual work, increased from 19% at entry to 31% at exit and 36% a year later.

Brotherhood Executive Director, Conny Lenneberg says to build skills and opportunity and spark hope in young people experiencing homelessness, an ambitious, new approach was needed.

‘Homelessness is more than just rooflessness, it deprives people of skills and strengths and represents the ebbing away of opportunity and hope in their lives. The evidence is in - this new approach works.’