New training service in Warrnambool targets youth at risk

A NEW internationally-acclaimed training service for homeless youth will open its doors in Warrnambool next week, offering a future to young people at risk. 

The first clients will soon step into the $4 million complex after four years of planning to establish the early intervention program.

Up to 17 young people who are hoping to enrol in TAFE or training courses but are unable to support themselves will be eligible to stay at the newly completed self-contained units on Raglan Parade. 

The project has been supported by Brophy Family and Youth Services and the Department of Human Services and is modelled on similar programs in the United Kingdom. 

“They’re very successful because it’s not just accommodation, they support kids to become independent,” Brophy chief executive officer Francis Broekman said.

He said those applying to live in the units would only pay minimal rent.

“It’s staffed 24-7 and provides basic living skills.” 

People will be able to stay in the units for up to two years while they study at TAFE. Staff members at the complex will also offer accredited courses on-site.

“For us it’s been such a key component of the way we work with the youth homelessness issue. We handle up to 300 kids a year with little infrastructure to support them,” Mr Broekman said.

The project was among the highlights tabled on the Brophy annual report after what Mr Broekman described as “a year out of the box”.

Brophy was forced to take on a large range of services in the middle of the year following the demise of Community Connections.

Mr Broekman said 80 foster children and 60 foster parents were transferred to Brophy in just one week, placing enormous pressure on the service.

“For us it was a real community crisis that we had to address. It was something we wouldn’t like to go through again,” he said. 

Brophy absorbed about 16 former Community Connections staff and received additional state government funding following the decision. The welfare agency also passed an external review this year, which Mr Broekman described as “quite extraordinary”. 

Brophy recorded a surplus of $333,564 for the year, including $140,018 carried over from headspace and had an operating budget of $6.36 million.

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