The Premier’s Youth Initiative (PYI) is a pilot program designed to support young people aged 16-17 who are leaving Out of Home Care (OOHC) and who are vulnerable to homelessness to live independently. Veritas House is delivering the program in Western NSW in partnership with local education and employment provider, Skillset, and with youth specialist housing provider, My Foundations Youth Housing. Young people are provided with a combination of personal advice, education and employment mentoring, transitional accommodation and support to secure long-term accommodation.
The objectives of PYI are to:
- Identify and target young people leaving OOHC in Western NSW, who are at risk of homelessness, before they enter crisis – enabling services to intervene early and divert them from entering the homelessness service system altogether, where possible.
- Ensure young people in Western NSW who do not have established networks and case managed aftercare support are supported by a Personal Advisor. This support will continue for the duration of the initiative, and aims to support a young person leaving OOHC to:
- implement their leaving care plan
- establish a life-long habit of growing and maintaining personal support networks
- navigate mainstream and specialist services as required
- manage crisis and change effectively.
- Provide support to young people in Western NSW to establish single occupant and shared accommodation via subsidised head-leased properties. This objective will enable young people to remain in locations where they have established support networks, following the end of or exit from PYI.
- Provide transitional support to young people in Western NSW to build their capacity to establish and maintain long-term accommodation. There will be an emphasis on building capacity to establish and maintain share accommodation. This transitional support will be provided for up to three years of the PYI initiative.
- Support young people via education and employment mentoring to build their financial capacity and growth in opportunity. This support is aimed at increasing the young person’s educational attainment and employment outcomes, so that at their exit from PYI the young person can maintain their housing and independent living.
Family and Community Services (FACS) will identify the young people who are eligible for this pilot program targeting those who are most likely to benefit from the program, based on international evidence of what works. For this reason, there is unfortunately no scope for service providers, caseworkers or FACS staff to refer young people for the initiative; or for young people to self-refer.
On 14 September 2015 the then Premier, Mike Baird, announced his ambition for NSW; setting 12 Premier’s priorities – one of which is “Reducing Youth Homelessness”. On 28 January 2016, the Premier hosted a Roundtable that focused on identifying strategies to assist in meeting the target to reduce youth homelessness, as well as discussions on best practice, service system gaps, barriers, challenges and opportunities for new initiatives. Participants identified prevention and early intervention as a key strategy to reducing youth homelessness and proposed that approaches include a model aimed at diverting young people leaving OOHC from the homelessness service system. Following the Roundtable, the NSW Government committed $10 million p.a. over 4 years for the Premier’s Youth Initiative pilot to divert up to 446 young people leaving OOHC from entering the homelessness service system in NSW. Services for this pilot are being rolled out in a staged process during 2017 and 2018. Locations include the Hunter, Central Coast, South West Sydney, Nepean Blue Mountains, New England, Northern NSW, Mid North Coast, Illawarra Shoalhaven, Southern NSW and Western NSW.