Throwing out the rulebook: collaborative innovation for the unfolding Education First Youth Foyer model

Joseph Borlagdan and Deborah Keys

Reconfigured relationships and roles were vital in the collaboration between government and community organisations to develop Education First Youth Foyers.

Developed by the Brotherhood of St. Laurence and Hanover Welfare Services (now Launch Housing), with funding from the Victorian Government, Education First Youth Foyers (EFYFs) represent an innovative student accommodation and education model designed for young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Departing from deficit-based welfare models, the EFYF model is designed to provide mainstream opportunities that enable and develop young people’s capabilities. Students participate in education and training while at EFYFs to gain skills to transition to independent living and employment. They also receive housing and integrated forms of support for up to two years.

The EFYF model was not an ‘off-the-shelf’ model with its own template. It required the creation of new policies and practices and new ways of working between government and the community sector.

The EFYF model signals not only a programmatic shift, but an avenue to broader policy reform. This research report identifies the key factors that ensured the development of a model that could transform youth homelessness service design and practice.

Last updated on 16 June 2020