The 2011 ABS Census shows 18 years of age and younger makes 27% of all homeless people in Australia.
Homelessness can be attributed to many reasons, the most common being, housing crisis, domestic and family violence or relationship and family breakdowns.
The Haven Association Inc in Toowoomba aims to provide safe and supported accommodation for young people aged between 16 – 18 years who may be experiencing homelessness or are at a risk of homelessness.
The Haven commenced operation in 1986 as an incorporated and associated and registered charity.
With just 7 staff members, the Haven houses between 6 -8 young people at a time.
Over the past 30 years, the Haven has provided support and assistance to hundreds of young people within the Toowoomba district requiring support who may be experiencing homelessness.
The Haven provides transitional accommodation, life and independent living skills such as budgeting, cooking and cleaning along with a strong focus on supporting young people to remain engaged in and complete education.
The Haven Association’s manager, Amanda Dalton said it is important to provide young people in need with the opportunity to complete their education to give them the best chance at success.
“Education and employment options are often seen as key to young people overcoming cycles of disadvantage, homelessness and welfare dependency. It is also very important to provide holistic and practical support around safe and affordable housing options along with links to access personal support such as counselling if required and also the importance of social and recreational inclusion in life and community,” she said.
The young people at the Haven must be willing and committed to engage in learning and earning.
“This may be through mainstream education, flexible learning options, TAFE or other recognised programs. A focus on employment and job readiness is also an aspect of the Haven program. Some young people require support to re-engage in education and this is something we will assist with,” she said.
Along with education and job readiness, The Haven helps young people develop necessary skill sets to succeed in adult hood.
“The Haven teaches young people about budgeting, cooking and cleaning and all aspects of living independently. This may include learning about responsibilities as a tenant and maintaining a tenancy. Young people at the Haven are required to do their own cooking, cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping. Some young people require a lot of assistance with this, while others require minimal.”
“We often hear back from past clients about how the haven helped them and that they have gone on to have families of their own, employment and purchase a home of their own. They speak fondly of the haven and that without the program and support feel they would not have succeeded as well in life,” she said.
The Haven is a non-for-profit organisation and 100% of donations go directly to the program and clients.
The Haven relies on basic government funding from the Department of Housing and Public, along with occasional donations from service groups and grants to assist in the support and running of the program.
“The generosity of the community is always so welcomed and so very appreciated. A lot of people all giving a bit can have a massive impact on many young lives and we see this on a daily basis.”
“To see a young person feel valued and accepted and to watch them go on to be successful members of the community is something that makes it all worthwhile. There are challenges and some difficult times but these are quickly forgotten when you see a young person graduate from school, get a job and move into their own place. These moments are priceless,” she said.
The Haven is always grateful to receive donations, sponsorship and support for information visit their Facebook page The Haven Association Inc.