Home for Christmas: vulnerable western Sydney young people celebrate building their future
|Matt with partner Joanne and children Oscar and Lily outside the AHFL Shalvey house.|
The ‘housewarming’ for the first house built under the new Marist Youth Care (MYC) Affordable Housing for Life for 'at risk' Young People Project (AHFL) was held on Tuesday 21 December in Shalvey.
The environmentally sustainable house, which was originally funded via the Federal Government’s Jobs Fund program, has been completed, furnished and made ready for the residents in just over six months – a quicker start-to-finish building period than most commercial residential housing projects.
The official opening of the Shalvey AHFL house was attended by Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness Senator Mark Arbib, Member for Chifley Ed Husic MP and the house's first residence, including Matt from Katoomba (with partner Joanne and children Oscar and Lily) and Antonio from Blacktown, who have worked on the house since July, together with Mitchell (Seven Hills), a new trainee.
“The trainees are very excited to have been able to complete the house and move in for Christmas,” MYC CEO Cate Sydes said.
“In the New Year they will be able to move on into open employment with the skills and experience they have gained working on this house.”
In total, 11 young people are now working in open employment since the project commenced in May. With another three AHFL houses to be completed by mid 2011, a total of at least 20 young people (previously ‘at risk’, unemployed and with no secure accommodation) are expected to be employed, accommodated and socially integrated within their community.
Ms Sydes also announced at the opening a new partnership between MYC, BlueCHP and Compass Community Housing Providers, whereby a further 50 dwellings will be constructed in NSW during 2011 as part of the AHFL Project, providing training and employment for more than 150 more 'at risk' young people.
Senator Arbib shared a celebratory Christmas lunch with the trainees who have been building the house in Shalvey since May, and presented the trainees with Certificates for Cert II in General Construction and a Christmas gift.
“The MYC Affordable Housing for Life project provides young people at risk of homelessness the training to construct affordable social housing,” Mr Arbib said.
“They then have the opportunity to move into the house they have just built. The project provides education and training that will benefit vulnerable young people now and careate opportunities for them in the future, helping to break the cycle of homelessness.”
Local MP Ed Husic added that the project provided much needed facilities to the local community while providing local job seekers training and job opportunities.
Postive and productive lives
The AHFL project addresses the two major issues faced by 'at risk' young people in Western Sydney: extremely high unemployment; and homelessness. It clearly reflects the demands for existing services in an area where unemployment is on Red Alert (ABS 2006, Coffee Employment Vulnerability Index 2010).
The project is based on a Social Enterprise Model which provides nationally accredited qualification (Cert II in Building and Construction) and up to six months' paid work and on-the-job training to enable young people to transition successfully into open and sustainable employment.
The project focuses on the construction of ‘green’ dwellings to house homeless young people or those 'at risk' of homelessness. At the same time as providing access to affordable accommodation, the project also offers national accredited training, ongoing employment and the opportunity to be socially included within their local communities.
Conceived by MYC, the largest not-for-profit provider of residential care to youth at risk in Western Sydney, the project aims to provide not just a bed, but also the tools and support youth 'at risk' need to lead more positive and productive lives.
MYC has been working with homeless young people in Sydney’s west since 1896 and currently provide full-time residential care for up to 120 at risk young people per night and outreach services for a further 1200 young people and their families each year.
'Successful working life and a stable future'
Jerome Grantham, from Hebersham, is an example of how the AHFL has provided life changing opportunities.
Jerome completed 26 weeks work as a trainee on the Shalvey house, and at the end of November, was offered employment with TJH Steelframe & Construction to be followed by an apprenticeship in 2011.
“Being in the AHFL Project has offered me an opportunity to move on with my life. The experience and confidence I have now will set me up for a lifetime of employment, and remain independent,” Jerome said.
"After I complete my apprenticeship, then I can start looking at my own house, a car and all the other things I want and need to have a successful working life and provide a stable future.”
At-risk youth start building for their future
Affordable Housing for Life Project takes shapeChristmas completion for first AHFL House
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