Samaritans Foyer – Working Towards ‘Closing the Gap’

CEO Social Justice Blog

The main reason Samaritans established a Foyer Program in Wickham last year was to offer young people who had experienced a period of homelessness a clearer pathway into employment and independent living.

It has become clear in Australia over the past 3 decades that it is extremely difficult for homeless young people  to survive in the community  without a job and / or parental support.

There is a total lack of affordable accommodation for young people in such situations.

Outside of public housing, you need a job to be able to afford somewhere to rent or purchase; and to get a job you obviously need a good education, followed by a post school qualification. A Foyer program offers subsidised accommodation and mentor support until young people acquire these qualifications. Even low skilled jobs these days require a post school qualification / certificate etc.

It is interesting and concerning that educational outcomes appear to differ according to where you live.

So, for example, according to stats I have read:

  • in the ACT – 86% of students complete year 12
  • in cities like Sydney – 81%
  • in a regional town like Newcastle – 70%
  • in the Upper Hunter – 50%
  • for Aboriginal people – 31%

In other words, the further away from Federal and State capitals you live, the more disappointing your educational outcomes become. This is disappointing as, in a knowledge based economy, education has become so important.

At a time of increasing unemployment, only 3.6% of students with year 12 are unemployed, so study is certainly worth the effort.

Last week we celebrated National Close the Gap Day and it is important to note that for university graduates, there is no difference in unemployment rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Now there’s a challenge.