Tackling Homelessness for young people – West Refuge Taking Shape

A consortium of tradesmen and contractors, many of whom are providing their services for free, have been working round-the-clock throughout the pandemic to build a critical piece of infrastructure to support young people experiencing homelessness in Melbourne’s inner west.

Together with the Property Industry Foundation, Hacer Group and a $3.5 million investment from the Victorian Government, MCM will open a high quality, purpose-built youth refuge later this year to help break the cycle of youth homelessness in Melbourne’s west.

MCM General Manager, Homelessness, Justice & Family Services, Wayne Merritt said the coronavirus shutdowns in 2020 were a difficult period for everyone, particularly young people who felt disconnected from their friends, family, school and employment.

“Having a safe and secure space is really important and our new West Refuge in Werribee is well placed to respond to the needs of young people who were experiencing homelessness prior to the pandemic.

“The design, layout and space of our youth refuges is really important for how we do our work. The West Refuge is not just a bed for someone to stay in. It’s the first of many stages where we provide wrap-around support aimed at stabilising and addressing the immediate needs, be that financial, support around mental health  therapeutic supports that assist young people to start to heal and begin the process of moving forward from what’s happened in the past,” Wayne said

MCM’s West Refuge comes as a concerning number of young people are already experiencing homelessness in the City of Wyndham, which increased by 76 per cent in the last five years. On Census night, 730 people identified as homeless. Of those, 384 – over half – were aged 12-24 years old (ABS 2016).

The West Refuge will link with MCM’s suite of youth homelessness programs including its service hub in South Road Braybrook, and other youth supports across Melbourne’s west. Due for completion in late 2021, the West Refuge will deliver positive outcomes for young people by:

  • providing emergency and crisis accommodation and 24-hour staffing and support for up to ten young people;
  • two family units to assist young parents and their children;  
  • a purpose-built children’s play area; and
  • capacity to provide young people with education and independent living skill programs on site.  

Some of the integrated programs and services young people will access at the West Refuge include early intervention programs, parenting, education and living skills programs, therapy using art, music and animals, and housing support.

Over $465,000 in services have been donated pro-bono to the redevelopment by a team of high-calibre consultants, including Turner & Townsend Thinc, Group GSA, Tract Consultants, PLP Building Surveyors, Morris Goding Access Consulting, Rider Levett Bucknall, Nationwide, Irwin, WSP, Hacer Group and Maddocks.

Contractors and tradesmen have been busy building our new West Refuge thanks to our partnership with the Victorian Government and the Property Industry Foundation.

Story Source: Melbourne City Mission

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Ryan Fritz

Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities with another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years of experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities.

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