Young people leaving foster care and transitioning to adult life will have a new lease on life and secure accommodation thanks to the refurbishment and renovation of two buildings in Sydney’s north-west by the Property Industry Foundation and Lendlease.
Representatives of Wesley Mission, The Property Industry Foundation, Lendlease, and young people joined together today at Ermington to celebrate the official opening of the premises – Wesley Herring House and Wesley Lynford Lodge – as part of the ground-breaking Wesley Take Charge of Your Life program.
Wesley Take Charge of Your Life will help young people aged 15-21 years transition from foster care to independent living. It is a well-known fact that young people who leave foster care are less likely to enter tertiary education and have higher levels of unemployment and homelessness. Few have extended family support.
Young people living in the two buildings will receive 24-hour support and ongoing case management as they study or seek work, and learn life skills like cooking and budgeting. By engaging with case workers, they will move into supported private accommodation and, eventually, gain full independence in the long-term.
“Just over 15 months ago we met at this same place sharing the dream of helping young people build better lives and preventing homelessness,” the CEO of Wesley Mission the Rev Dr Keith Garner said. “We were bound in a practical partnership to make these two accommodation centres a living reality for vulnerable young people.
“We are grateful for the support of the Property Industry Foundation PIF House Project and Lendlease who have committed more than $800,000 to the renovation project and with a commitment of $300,000 a year for five years to assist in the operation of the accommodation part of the program.
“We are also thankful for the support extended by many in the building and allied industries who donated their skills, resources and time to the project.
“We can now stand here today as one and enjoy the fruits of our committed work in response to a tangible and significant need in our community. Well-equipped, modern buildings like these will be a safe place for young people to flourish and grow.”
Property Industry Foundation CEO Rosemary Smithson said the project was vital to helping young people leaving foster care transition to independence.
“This is a great example of the property and construction industry working together through the Property Industry Foundation and with the community to help rebuild the lives of at-risk young people,” she said.
Lendlease General Manager NSW Building, Joel Stringer said: “We’re delighted to have been able to lend a hand in refurbishing these buildings, which are now ready for use. Wesley Take Charge of Your Life is a great initiative and we wish the young people who will move into buildings every success in their new home.”
There are 39,600 children in foster care in Australia. As they leave school, often early, these children generally also leave their foster parents and make an attempt to live independently as young adults. The two buildings will provide a stable place to live while supporting continuity in other areas of life.
Living in supported accommodation makes it more likely that a young person will complete high school or equivalent, go on to tertiary study with their friends and maintain important friendships and relationships. Without stability and the continuity attachment, a young person will struggle to have the confidence and support to fully explore their identity, a sense of belonging and as part of that, their surroundings and boundaries.
Pictured Above: Joel Stringer, Lendlease General Manager NSW Building, Tamara Saliba, Wesley Take Charge of Your Life program client, Rev Dr Keith Garner, AM, CEO Wesley Mission, Rosemary Smithson, Chief Executive Officer of the Property Industry Foundation, Steven Gatt, NSW Chair, Property Industry Foundation