Young people - those aged 16-24 in this case - who experience homelessness are up against multiple issues as they strive to escape the homelessness cycle.
Even if they gain some work and get back on their feet, not having the financial skills to manage tax, superannuation, budgeting and crediting can land or keep many young people on the street.
“An essential part of our work is ensuring participants are paid for and valued for their work and ensuring they can feel confident in managing their money and setting themselves up for the future,” says Tenille Gilbert, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Society Melbourne.
Created by a group of young people passionate about equity and equality for their peers, Society Melbourne is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to tackling youth homelessness.
In 2020, the organisation was a recipient of an ANZ’s Community Foundation grant that will be used to address the poor financial literacy skills of young people experiencing homelessness.
Tenille says the grant helped Society Melbourne develop a 'Financial Wellbeing Module' for its home.plate Hospitality Training Program, a program that provides paid hospitality training to young people who are at-risk of, or who have experienced homelessness.
“As an organisation focused on providing pathways towards sustainable independence for the young people we work with, tackling those multiple challenges is our focus,” she says.
Impact of COVID-19
Society Melbourne’s most immediate challenge was being able to operate its venues during COVID-19 lockdowns. Unfortunately, four out of five of its venues were forced to close which in-turn resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number of trainees onsite.
Tenille says for many people, social connectedness was one of the most difficult parts of the lockdown – a role the program would usually fulfil.
“We knew continuing to provide opportunities for connection among our trainees and to the Society Melbourne team was essential,” she says. “With this in mind, we developed online workshops and our Program Manager called trainees weekly to catch up and to provide as much support as possible.”