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Brewing change for disadvantaged youth


"It enables young people in these situations to rebuild and reclaim control over their lives, importantly, it provides hope and optimism for the future.”

- Bevan Warner, Chief Executive Officer, Launch Housing

A cup of coffee really can change someone’s life.  Buy one from Home.Two café in Melbourne and 100 per cent of the profits go towards helping homeless and disadvantaged youth.


Social enterprise, Society Melbourne is making it happen through a life-changing traineeship program which pays trainee wages and funds rental subsidies to help young homeless gradually become self-sufficient in private rental.


Through its Home.Two café located on The University of Melbourne campus, Society Melbourne provides homeless youth with paid workplace training in hospitality, building their skills and confidence in the workforce.


Not only are students helped to prepare for the future, they are also supported with a case worker and secure accommodation by one of Victoria's biggest homelessness and housing service providers, Launch Housing through its Education First Youth (EFY) Foyer program.


The Home.Two program provides opportunities for young people experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness to ground themselves in stable accommodation, with access to education that allows them for the first time to pursue skills development.  


Bevan Warner, Chief Executive Officer, Launch Housing says “it enables young people in these situations to rebuild and reclaim control over their lives, importantly, it provides hope and optimism for the future”.


“When people exit after two years they've got educational qualifications, they're no longer homeless they're in the paid workforce,” he says.


A longitudinal study from The Brotherhood of St Laurence and Launch Housing shows significant improvements in housing independence for students at the end of the program as well as further improvements a year later.


Remarkably, 85 per cent of students are in work or education in the year after the program. The percentage living in their own place (renting or owning) increased from 7 per cent at entry to 43 per cent at exit, and to 51 per cent a year later; and of those sleeping rough or living in crisis accommodation, treatment centres or detention there was a decline from 32 per cent at entry to 3 per cent at exit and to 2 per cent a year later.

Source: https://www.bsl.org.au/fileadmin/user_upload/images/Media/Blog/EFYF-Outcomes-launch.pdf

Providing a hand up


Co-founder and Managing Director of Society Melbourne Tenille Gilbert believes the approach is best described as an empowerment model.


“It’s about recognising that people who are in disadvantaged circumstances, don't just need a handout, they need a hand up,” she says.


“The training program is about supporting young people who may not have had a positive experience in employment before. We’re trying to provide a safe community space for them to acknowledge their value and realise they can be respected in the workplace.”


Co-Founder Levi Fernandez believes it also gives the general public an opportunity to “buy in” to social change.


“You can buy your coffee every day in the knowledge that you’re contributing to a number of young people on their way out of the homelessness cycle,” he says.


Importance of partnerships


From Tenille’s perspective, the idea of community is one of the most important components in young people's journey out of the homelessness cycle. Levi agrees: “youth homelessness is really complicated and it takes many different people doing many different things to truly address it.”


ANZ’s Head of Housing Strategy, Caryn Kakas, believes in the importance of partnerships between business, government and non-government organisations (NGOs) to deliver better housing outcomes for the community.


“When financial institutions are able to partner with the private sector and community, we have the best chance of collectively changing things for the better,” she says.


Much of Society Melbourne’s growth can be attributed to its partnerships. Home.Two, has been able to build on support from ANZ, The University of Melbourne, and an ongoing relationship with Launch Housing.


According to Caryn, ANZ is increasingly looking to support charities and social enterprises that align with its purpose and the societal issues it has chosen to focus on.


“Home.Two was a good fit for us as it delivers impact across financial wellbeing, access to housing and environmental sustainability,” she says.


Built and designed by Breathe Architecture from recycled shipping containers, ANZ contributed 100 per cent of the money raised from its annual Kaleidoscope charity art auction in 2018 to Society Melbourne, to help fund the fit-out of Home.Two.

Image description: Co-founders of Society Melbourne, Levi Fernandez and Tenille Gilbert.


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