The Geelong Project (TGP) received an investment of a further $2.8 million over three years to support the continued and extended delivery of the early intervention-focused youth homelessness program in the recent Victorian State Budget.
This will enable BCYF, as the project lead, to continue delivering TGP into seven schools in the Geelong region with the intent of providing young people with the best possible opportunities for good life outcomes. TGP aims to prevent homelessness by keeping young people engaged and connected at home, in school, and to the community. Early intervention is a critical component of TGP and integral to reducing homelessness.
We know when young people leave school early they are left vulnerable to a range of poorer outcomes later in life, including homelessness and unemployment. When we support young people to remain at home, and in school environments, multiple benefits are derived, including further education and employment opportunities.
Last calendar year, The Geelong Project supported 408 young people.
The program is led by BCYF, operates in conjunction with seven schools in the Geelong region, the Geelong Region LLEN and Upstream Australia (which works with UniSA). The project’s journey since its inception, and over the last five-years in particular, has seen the BCYF Board and TGP community partners rally together around a vision of addressing youth homelessness, early school leaving and other associated adverse outcomes for young people.
The project engages young people at Northern Bay College, Newcomb Secondary College, Geelong High School, Western Heights Secondary College, North Geelong Secondary College, Lara Secondary College and Grovedale Secondary College.
The Geelong Project uses the Community of Schools and Services (COSS) model, whereby the schools identify which students and families may benefit from support, and BCYF youth workers support student and their families to work through issues that could lead to school disengagement and homelessness. The COSS Model is being adopted in the US, Canada and in Wales.
BCYF CEO, Mr Sandy Morrison said TGP has made a significant difference in the lives of young people and their families in the Geelong community.
“Results from The Geelong Project in the initial three pilot schools, revealed that The Geelong Project was successful in reducing the number of homeless young school aged young people in Geelong by 40%, and reducing early school leaving by at risk students by 20%.” Mr Morrison said.
“We acknowledge and commend the young people that have contributed to, and allowed themselves to benefit from The Geelong Project to date” he added.
“This year, has been difficult for many adolescents with COVID-19 impacting their social, emotional and mental wellbeing. We are thrilled to receive this vote of confidence of our TGP work with this State funding, and which will enable us to continue supporting young people in our community and, as we have demonstrated, to achieve and build-on the extraordinary outcomes that TGP has and is capable of delivering,” Mr Morrison added.