Social Futures in Lismore is calling for more family carers to join the Connecting You program which helps vulnerable young people in need.
Social Futures in Lismore is calling for more family carers to join the Connecting You program which helps vulnerable young people in need. CONTRIBUTED

Open your heart and home to a young person in need

DATA released from the ABS has found 1494 people were homeless in the Northern Rivers on Census night in 2016, meaning an increase of 194 persons since the 2011 Census.

A further 1370 were found in other marginal housing in 2016, including in caravan parks.

The highest numbers were counted in Tweed (444), Byron (327), Lismore (309) and Clarence Valley (230) Local Government Areas.

Social Futures Youth and Family case manager, Tracy Coop said among the Northern Rivers homeless population, young people were amongst the most vulnerable. Some of the most common reasons for young people experiencing homelessness are housing crisis, domestic and family violence and relationship/family breakdown.

"On any given night an undetermined number of young people all over Northern NSW who need a safe home for a few nights,” Ms Coop said.

"We, along with Pathfinders, are seeking more family carers for the Youth Assistance Program, Connecting You, to open their hearts and homes to young people aged 12-15 years in Lismore, Grafton and in Tweed Heads.”

Family carers help young people to take time out in a safe environment, while they work through challenges with a case manager. This role is critically important because it allows breathing space for the young person and their families, while they help to heal ruptured relationships and explore long term solutions.

"The program assists in early intervention and prevention of homelessness,” Ms Coop said.

"If you have ever wanted to genuinely help another person, if you have a compassionate heart and a spare room in your home, then this could be your opportunity.

"Just that bit of space away in a safe environment can really work wonders and it be the difference between resolving issues with their families, and the young person being caught up in the cycle of homelessness.”

In the program, young people will be placed with family carers by Homeless Youth Assistance Program (HYAP) case managers for up to 28 days while they work with the young person, their family and extended family to work towards restoration and explore opportunities for long term, safe, supported accommodation.

Family carers can be part of a couple, single, studying, retired or working, and of any cultural or religious background.

To be successful in this role you will have the resilience, maturity, emotional intelligence and the mentoring skills to provide a safe, stable and supportive home environment for young people. The whole process is well supported by qualified, fully trained staff.

The Family Carer role attracts:

  • A retainer to ensure that they are available exclusively to support the HYAP program. This will be supplemented with a nightly accommodation placement allowance consistent with OOHC intensive foster care rates.
  • Specialised training, including how to support young people affected by trauma.
  • Intensive support from Pathfinders therapeutic specialists, and Social Futures case managers.
  • This is a voluntary service, requiring both the young person and parents consent to enable us to work with the whole of family.

Interested? For more info or to apply to become a HYAP Family Carer call 6620 1800 or email tracy.coop@social futures.org.au