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How Youth CONNECT helps build independence


Finding a safe, stable and affordable place to live was vital for Tee, 18, who had recently left out-of-home care and was struggling in short term accommodation.

But Tee, whose name has been changed for privacy reasons, was able to get tailored support through the Youth CONNECT program. This has helped Tee on the road to independence by finding her a one-bedroom unit and assigning her a case manager to help develop a plan for the future.

Youth CONNECT is delivered by Churches of Christ Care through the Queensland Government’s Social Benefit Bond pilot program. The Social Benefit Bond receives investment from QBE’s Premiums4Good initiative.

Premiums4Good enables insurance customers to direct a portion of their insurance premiums towards investments by QBE which have an additional social or environmental objective.

Young people leaving care can often face a tough road, says Leanne Rutherford, general manager of Churches of Christ Care.

Youth CONNECTThe odds are stacked against them, she says. They have a 50 per cent chance of experiencing homelessness, one in three will be unemployed and only a third will complete high school. Substance abuse, emotional and behavioural difficulties and youth pregnancy are all common too.

“This is the terrifying reality for many of our young people transitioning from statutory care to independence,” Ms Rutherford said.

“We know that with the right support, resources and care this doesn’t need to be their reality.”

The Youth CONNECT Program provides early intervention and support for individual participants, and helps them find appropriate, stable and supported housing options. There’s also assistance with finding work, education, personal development and life skills.

"When you have a place you can call home, that is affordable and appropriate for your needs, it is easier to concentrate on other aspects of your life, that is why we have taken a housing-first approach,” Ms Rutherford says. “Through our team of professionals, we can then help young people to get on their feet, become more resilient to homelessness and reach their full potential.”

The program started taking referrals in December 2017 and will help more than 300 people over six years throughout Queensland.

For Tee, Youth CONNECT has been a game changer.

Since joining the program, she has developed independent living skills, including basic skills in cooking, budgeting and general household management, which are vital for future success.

In the longer term, Tee’s goals now include starting a university degree and moving into a house with other young people to make friends and build social connections, something that’s previously been very difficult for her.

Read more about Youth CONNECT.

Read more about QBE’s Premiums4Good initiative.