The Great Lakes and Manning Youth Homelessness Service

“Through our Crisis Accommodation Program, the Transitional Youth Program and the Youth Housing Program we have been able to support young people to make positive steps forward in their lives and to move into independent living where appropriate. It is rewarding to help make a difference in a young person’s life and to be part of their journey” — Tammy Whyte

“GLAMYHS has been named at a district level as innovative leaders with our Brief Intervention Tool discussed at industry forums and distributed across the state to support service providers meet the increasingly high demands on their services” — Kath Donovan

Who we are

The Great Lakes and Manning Youth Homelessness Service provides specialist homelessness services to young people across the Great Lakes, Greater Taree and Gloucester LGA. We deliver targeted responses through our Garage Youth Refuge 24x7 supported crisis accommodation for young people up to 17 years old, and holistic support to young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, including: case management, living skills, advocacy and supported referrals to specialised services, and the youth transitional housing program for young people and their families (up to the age of 24).

We aim to create a welcoming environment, and we strive to promote safety and wellbeing for clients and staff. The Garage Youth Refuge is not only a place for young people to access crisis accommodation, it is a place for them to work things out for themselves in a supported and safe environment. Our service model is constantly evolving to improve consistency and outcomes for young people accessing the service.

Activities and Achievements

This year, The Garage Youth Refuge has provided specialist crisis homelessness support to 284 young people (funded to service 174), 1061 bed nights in crisis accommodation and 107 supported placements into the transitional youth housing program, 6053 bed nights in medium term accommodation. We have continued to build on our strong partnerships with first-to-know agencies including Family and Community Services Taree, Juvenile Justice and the Biripi Aboriginal Children’s Service.

The Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) continues to work in partnership with Hunter New England Area Health, Catholic Care, Gloucester High School and Gloucester Shire Council to support young people and their families in Gloucester. Collaboration with other service providers in the region has remained a key strategic value of ours, with new partnerships formed with Youth on Track/Uniting Burnside, and our case managers working collaboratively to provide support to young people who have had involvement with the criminal justice system.

A special mention should be made of Chris Cassar at Richmond Partners in Recovery (Taree), who has opened the door for SHS management to attend future Manning Collaborative Housing and Mental Health (CHaMH) meetings. These meetings include representatives from Housing NSW, Community Housing Limited, Hunter New England Area Health — Mental Health. Engagement with this committee will enhance local links with mental health services and support longer term housing options for clients. Feedback from Sandy Shaw (FaCS) CPO highlighted that our own GLAMYHS Brief Intervention Strategies have been well-received by the Going Home Staying Home Reform Team.

This year, establishing relationships with local Real Estate agents to support a rapid re-housing approach to service delivery was also one of our priorities, with staff building strong relationships with JKL Real Estate, Forster; LJ Hooker, Forster; Noble Real Estate, Forster; LJ Hooker, Taree; and Century 21, Taree.

We prepared a submission for the Homeless Youth Assistance Program (HYAP) Stage 2 tender with the help of Joshua Burguete-Kirkman and Corinne Stephenson in the Community Resources Head Office. The funding package was valued at $1.127M to deliver supports and accommodation to young people aged 12–15 at risk of or experiencing homelessness across the Hunter New England district. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful with this tender, but we still appreciate the support of the MAD team in helping us prepare it. In more positive news, SHS was deemed eligible for a funding enhancement of $216,755 pa over two years, bringing SHS total yearly budget to $850,000 p.a. for the next two years.

This past year, we have also been collaborating with Trish Wallace from the Forster Neighbourhood Centre and Sheryl Tester from the MidCoast Council (Gloucester EIPP provider) to establish stronger working relationships with a focus on better servicing our target group in the Forster and Gloucester areas.

Good Place to Work

The service comprises permanent staff of Kath Donovan as Manager, Tammy Whyte as Coordinator and Case Managers Robert Eddie, Kay Holohan, Vicki Anlezark and Cindy Taylor. A team of casuals support the delivery of a 24x7 roster.

Staff development is a primary focus of the service with training completed in a variety of areas this past year, namely: SHS Reforms, Trauma-Informed Care Practice, Managing for Optimal Performance, Difficult Conversations and Giving Feedback; Day 2 Youth Mental Health; Affordable Housing Models Conference; Using E-Mental Health Services Webinar; Family Focus AASW CPD Course; Survival Tools for Self-Harm and Suicidal Thoughts; AASW CPD Course; First Aid; Office 365; Trauma Informed Care; Mental Health First Aid; Alcohol and Other Drug Disorders; Methamphetamine Forum; Sexual Health and Facilitating Groups training; and RAGE facilitator training.

Tammy Whyte attended the National Indigenous Women’s Network Conference with Lisa Berry and Homebase Services staff, while Kay Holohan and Vicki Anlezark attended the Fighting Fair — Family Mediation Training. Shelley and Kay attended the Youth Mental Health training; Robert, Bianca Tammy, Kath, Margot and Kay attended the Understanding Tenancy Law Information Session; Shelley attended the Red Dust Healing Introduction training; Kath and Tammy attended the Workforce Solutions training; Kath attended the Vocam Safety TV Webinar on Training Groups and How to Embed Policy and Procedures.

In an attempt to derive clean energy sources for the Garage Youth Refuge and introduce a sense of environmental responsibility to residential clients, Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) has commenced working towards the installation of solar panels.

Sadly, Pilar McGechan resigned early in the financial year, and we would like to acknowledge the support that Pilar provided to the SHS team and her contribution to the community over the past decade. Pilar was an invaluable member of our team and is greatly missed.

Our Partners

Without the support of our networks and partners, we would not be able to deliver our service to the young people of the Manning, Great Lakes and Gloucester region. The following is a list of some of our partners from this past reporting year: Goulburn Youth Refuge; Better Reading Better Communities; Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre; Community Housing Limited; Samaritans; Family and Community Services, Community Services, Taree; Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service; LJ Hooker Taree; TAFE, Taree Campus; NSW Police; Juvenile Justice; Burnside Uniting Care; Hunter New England Area Health; Housing NSW; MidCoast Council; Forster Neighbourhood Centre; Hunter New England Area Health; Catholic Care; Gloucester High School; Gloucester Shire Council; Richmond Partners in Recovery; Allambi Youth Services; Port Stephens Family and Neighbourhood Services; Ungaroo Aboriginal Corporation.

You can check out more of the Community Resources Annual Report by following this link: http://ow.ly/tcWV305QojY