Young people are one of our country’s most vulnerable groups, experiencing an alarming rate of homelessness in Australia. Churches of Christ in Queensland’s Youth CONNECT program, a Christian Super Impact Investment, is a Queensland-based program dedicated to supporting 15 to 25 years olds who are at risk of homelessness upon exiting statutory care.
In 2016-2017 over 42,000 young people arrived alone and in housing crisis at specialist homelessness services around Australia. The innovative Youth CONNECT Social Benefit Bond, delivered by Churches of Christ in Queensland in partnership with the Queensland Government, allows investors to support young people at risk of homeless through the holistic Youth CONNECT program.
Young people in crisis
Stable housing is a strong foundation from which young people can undertake study, secure steady employment and build their lives. Thousands of young people are prevented from reaching their true potential because they are either homeless or at high risk of homelessness.
Those leaving statutory care between 15 to 25 years of age are particularly vulnerable with a range of studies suggesting that these individuals might expect to experience the following devastating life outcomes:
- 35% will be homeless within one year, and more than 50% will have experienced homeless within five years
- 29% will be unemployed
- 47% will have some involvement with the criminal justice system
- Only 35% will complete year 12 at school
- 53% will experience substance abuse
- 53% will experience clinically significant emotional and behaviour difficulties
- 28%-33% will be pregnant or parents themselves when they leave care. 54% of their children will be removed from them and placed on care and protection orders, perpetuating the intergenerational experience of placement in state care.
What does Youth CONNECT do?
Youth CONNECT works with young people who have been in statutory care to build the key capabilities they need to thrive independently. The goal of the program is to support 300 young people exiting statutory care; building resilience, reducing their risk of homelessness and breaking the cycle of dependence on state care.
Services focus on a holistic approach, encompassing education, employment, health and wellbeing, critical life skills and community connection. Youth CONNECT will ensure that every young person participating in the program has access to safe, stable, affordable and appropriate accommodation. As well as preventing immediate homelessness, appropriate accommodation gives young people a sense of safety from which they can begin to build a better life.
How does a social benefit bond work?
Social benefit bonds are an innovative way of tackling complex social problems. By investing into early intervention in the lives of young people, it’s expected that programs like Youth CONNECT will offset potential future costs to taxpayers.
Investment returns are based on agreed outcomes being achieved by the program, generating avoided cost for government over time. By supporting young people in building healthy, independent lives Youth CONNECT will help to reduce the reliance on Government housing, mental health, hospital, justice, statutory care and welfare services, which translates into significant and ongoing government cost savings. These offset costs can then be returned to investors who supported the bond and the service upfront.
Youth CONNECT is one of Christian Super’s many Impact Investments.
Hear from some of the people that Youth CONNECT is supporting: