e-connect: There are thousands of young people in Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula, and there is no crisis facility; there are only 13 transitional beds for homeless kids in Frankston, and there are long waiting lists… we need to distinguish between crisis accommodation and transitional accommodation, don’t we?
Tatiana Croft (Above left): Yes, and it comes back to what Trish was saying about people needing to be ready for the program; ready for help. Transitional housing is finite; we can’t just take a homeless young person whom we know nothing about and put them in a house right off the street, and expect it to work. There is a process to accessing transitional accommodation, but the fact is that we need more of everything. There are also very few vacancies, so it is not a common response that we can actually offer.
Trish Kelly: We need more transitional; we need more T21s (Transition To Independence Centres), as well as a crisis accommodation facility. Emergency, crisis accommodation needs to be the first step for a lot of young people. We know that crisis accommodation won’t magically fix the problem, but if somebody breaks their arm, for example, you address that reality and put it into plaster. Until it is ready to come off – it’s the same with using crisis accommodation.
There is a need for crisis accommodation, for transitional accommodation, for social housing stock. It would be awesome if someone could go from six to eight weeks in crisis accommodation, be really stabilised and prepared, responding and engaging well with the support structures, and then go into T21 and then to a transitional house or private rental accommodation.
e-connect: What is the biggest need?
Tatiana: Resources are the biggest issue for us, and a lot of that is out of our control. Which is why, the Youth2 Campaign has met with the local federal member, and hopes to meet with more people from the local and state government, to come on board and support us.
Trish Kelly: We have conversations about what homeless young people want. Then we make a list of the things they need to do to get there. When we walk them though the process, they realise they can’t immediately afford to pursue some paths, or leave T21 yet. It holds much more weight when they come to a realisation by themselves, even if it is with your help, rather than us telling them that something is unrealistic.
We had a young person who was picky about her hopes for a private rental, and we suggested she go to every open house she could. She came back and said, there were 30 other people there, you were right… they realise, and we help them do a budget. We don’t have to tell them if they have an unrealistic goal; it becomes apparent.
e-connect: You help youth balance their desires with their reality?
Tatiana: That’s what we mean about balancing reality with empowerment, and self-determination.
Trish: At T21 we are able to give them a bit of space to ‘fall down’ so they can pick themselves up again, it is a safe space in that respect. They learn from that –if they don’t pay their rent, or don’t go to Centrelink, they are the ones who are put at risk. They will come into the office in a mad panic with their benefits cut off from non-compliance, and we will ask them, ‘What happened?’ They have to drive their lives; they have to gain independence. It is far more empowering when they achieve something themselves.
Tatiana: We can’t rescue people. We have to do things in partnership with them or it doesn’t work. It’s not going to help them in the long run if we do everything for them…We get them to identify areas where they want to change.
Trish: We coach young people, rather than carrying young people.
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Tatiana Croft is the coordinator of the Transitional Support Program, Homelessness and Support Services, SalvoCare Eastern.
Trish Kelly is the coordinator of Youth Services, Peninsula Transition To Independence Centre (T21), SalvoCare Eastern.