The Hidden Hunger in our food rich city

We’ve been overwhelmed  by the generosity of the Melbourne community who have come forward with food and supplies during this bitterly cold winter. As a result we’ve been able to meet the growing needs of clients who are living on our streets, who are cold, hungry and unwell.

Around eighty per cent of the clients attending the Youth Projects primary health clinic frequently go hungry, unable to access the basic requirement of three meals a day. In both cities and in the suburbs, food security has emerged as an increasing indicator of poverty.

And a disturbing finding from a new study by the City of Melbourne shows that the hunger problem also now extends to a broader group of people including those who are housed, in both public housing and in the private rental market such as students and the elderly. In fact, up to 7,500 people are facing food shortage in a food rich city and in a country of abundance.

But it is people experiencing homelessness who have the worst diets and health of anyone in our community, suffering much higher rates chronic disease than the rest of the public.

Dependency on food vouchers, soup vans, food scraps and hand outs eventually takes its toll on health. Many report that the recycled, donated food hand outs offer little variety and often comprise meat pies and stale pastries Food security exists when people have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy lifestyle. Lack of any choice and control in what you eat is hard to fathom for most of us who make food choices daily.

Food insecurity in Australia is likely to be over five per cent of the general population, and much higher among groups at risk such as those in remote areas, indigenous people, homeless people, and those on low or insecure incomes.

These vulnerable groups are more likely to consume greater amounts of ‘energy dense' foods and insufficient servings of essential vegetables and grains. High fat meals such as fast-food are often perceived as being more affordable, more filling and more easily available in disadvantaged areas. 

When people have little money, food choices are the first to feel the pinch. This is because struggling individuals and families know they can't avoid paying rent or power bills. For people living on the streets, their options are even more limited.

Poor diet places increased costs on our health budget downstream and is better dealt with early. New innovative solutions are needed to empower low income households and people who are homeless to achieve good health for their long term benefit.

At Youth Projects our sessions teaching life skills such as cooking, budgeting, shopping and food hygiene have been popular. We hope to scale up these programs to empower and break long term dependency on the issue of food and nutrition. Combined with mental health counselling, access to training and skills. we’re supporting the transition to a healthier, more stable lifestyle.

But for now, community gardens and cooking programs alone won't be enough due to the scale of the hunger problem. Poverty will remain the root cause due to rising costs of living especially rent, lack of jobs and the failure of government benefits to keep pace. Fortunately, our work in job skills and placement also serve to help people move from poverty to a new and better life. 

Help us to help others.


 

Hang Out for Youth Projects on 8 August! 
Help us to help others.

To register or for more information, go to www.hangoutforthehomeless.org.au.

Your donation will help us to help others, like Alicia.

Half of all people facing homelessness in Australia are aged under 25. With the right support, when and where it’s needed, we’re helping people get their lives back on track. Free health care, youth training, skills and job support, mental health and drug counselling. It’s all the help in one place, so people don’t feel lost and alone. And are not invisible any more.

Please donate at www.youthprojects.org.au/donate.htm

National Reconciliation Week 27 May to 3 June 2015

 

Youth Projects acknowledges the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures; and to elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.

Are jobs people ready?

A lot of time is spent trying to make people “job ready.” In my view, we could also make jobs more people ready

Many unemployed struggle to meet the very uniform benchmarks of a highly competitive job market. Early school leavers, people with disabilities and people who are homeless find job search, employers and workplaces foreign and, in fact, brutal, in many cases.

Why do we expect such people to fit neatly into the job market? And why do we expect them to compete on an even footing with other job seekers who, by comparison, have had more advantages in life?

Our new venture in the heart of Melbourne, Good Coffee Good 2 Go, puts all the help in on place, working across silos and joining our specialist teams into one effort. We’re created a more welcoming avenue to learn about work that is also the real deal, involving fast paced service to the diverse customers of Hosier Lane.

Young people are learning skills and also trying out city jobs – you’d be surprised how many outer suburban young people fear the “big smoke”. These fears are further heightened if you already have housing, mental health and transport barriers. With over 50% of all new jobs growth forecast to occur in the inner city, we also need to tackle this issue head on.

Work experience in the café is combined with full accredited training courses or simple fast track training, delivered by trainers committed to the client group. It has the advantage of being located in the same building as our primary health clinic, so there is on site access to mental health and AOD workers and crisis intervention.

Some participants are simply young and unemployed and are improving their skills and resumes. They will be “good to go” into the job market in no time. But we also support participants who are more fragile – coping with a mental illness and homelessness, who may also be at risk of relapse into substance abuse.

For example, short and irregular shifts are available to accommodate individual transition to work and mental health status, lateness or irregular attendance is handled thoughtfully: what really happened? How are you coping? By doing so we're maintaining confidence and motivation and helping them to step over the fear barrier.

We are not going to mislead participants that all jobs will be like working at Good 2 Go. We have formal job descriptions, codes of conduct, regular assessment, sales targets, feedback and a structured job placement plan. We just do things through a more thoughtful prism.

It's early days at Good 2 Go but we have good news: we are seeing a rapid turnaround in esteem and engagement already. Why? We think we are designing jobs that are people ready. And in time, those people will also be job ready.

Melanie Raymond
Chairman 

How to engage kids in giving

Getting more out of the giving season.  The generous team at Kids in Philanthropy have some great advice - and explain how they help Youth Projects.

Source: ABC News 24

Project Press October 2014

Although youth unemployment is at its highest in decades, we’re making major inroads into job training and placement for young people, the hardest hit by a tight job market.

In this edition of Project Press we’re showcasing the turnaround results that can happen when we partner with local employers who trust and invest in their local community. We also say thank you to our very special donors and volunteers.

Our latest news here 

Laneway soccer match unites stars and homeless in Melbourne

Some of Melbourne's biggest soccer stars have joined homeless and at-risk young people for a game of street football in a city laneway.

Melbourne Victory captain Mark Milligan and player Leigh Broxham took part in the event, on Hosier Lane, to promote Homeless Persons' Week.

"For people to be putting in place days like today, to not only spread the message but to lend a hand, I think is very important," Milligan said.

Having succumbed to a strained hamstring at the World Cup in Brazil, he said the laneway match provided some stiff competition.

"Absolutely, I think any competition at the moment will be tough for me," he said.

"There's some very handy players down here today."

View VIDEO: Street football unites soccer stars and homeless (7pm TV News VIC)

Homeless outreach charity Youth Projects holds sporting events for its clients each week to promote exercise and social skills.

The not-for-profit's chair, Melanie Raymond, said it was an important part of the organisation's work.

"Sport speaks a language where people are familiar. It's a common, unifying theme," she said.

"For a group who are feeling vulnerable and excluded, it's something they can relate to."

The game comes after Melbourne City Council revealed homelessness in the city had increased 40 per cent in the past year, with 142 people homeless.

Presentations at Youth Projects' centre in the CBD have more than doubled over the same period.

"It's a crisis in plain sight, and the figures released recently finally let people see that," Ms Raymond said.

"You only need to come into the city to see that it's a dramatic rise."

By James Fettes 
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-31/street-soccerl-unites-stars-and-homeless-in-melbourne/5639416  

Projects Press June/July 2014

We’re working at ground zero on many of the nation’s toughest problems. In the north of Melbourne, Coolaroo and Craigieburn top the nation in youth unemployment at 33 per cent. Inner Melbourne has seen a 40% rise in people sleeping rough. The community is also facing increased mental health problems and drug use. - it's all in this edition of Project Press. 

BUDGET 14: ALL PAIN, NO GAIN FOR YOUTH IN BROADMEADOWS

Youth Projects says young people in the Broadmeadows region will suffer under harsh changes to welfare payments under the federal budget.

The organisation says the region with the highest rate of youth unemployment in the country has received no help, only pain, in this budget.

Youth Projects estimates 60% of its total caseload, over 550 young people,  will be left without support using the rules announced in the budget.

The organisation's CEO, Melanie Raymond, says the new six month delay in eligibility for Newstart allowance for the newly unemployed could tip more young people into homelessness and will certainly make job search even harder.

 From 1 January  the age of eligibility for Newstart Allowance and Sickness Allowance will increase from 22 to 24 years of age. And those under 30 will have to wait six months without support before they can receive assistance.

"The government has no answer as to how young people leaving school who cannot find work will survive in this period".

"This is the worst start in life, pushing more young people in this area into poverty".

The realities at present are that in the Calder region young people leave school earlier, have fewer qualifications and enter a stagnant job market where there are many more job seekers than job vacancies.

Coolaroo and Craigieburn have the highest rates of youth unemployment in Victoria at over 30%.

56% of our young clients have Year 10 and

12 % have only primary school  or below Year 10 schooling

at least 1/4 of clients are homeless or at risk of homelessness. 

(The 2006 census recorded 560 homeless persons in Hume; by 2011, there had been a 55% increase to 867)

there is a close link between family violence and unemployment in this area: Hume had the third-highest rate of family violence reports in Victoria. In 2011-12, it had the highest number of reported incidents in the northern metropolitan region, with 20 per cent of female victims aged 18-24)

"Our clients already face strictly monitored job search requirements,  but this has not and will not create jobs out of nowhere.

Young people continue to be last on and first off, and will continue to bear a much higher burden of economic recession than other groups in this community."

Ms Raymond says Youth Projects has been working with local employers to demonstrate the benefits of employing local young people who are job ready with great success. Closer relationships with business is our best strategy where we can prepare job seekers with the skills in demand. 

"Otherwise many young people are facing a bleak future and this community will need to rally around to create something better than the government has offered us"

 

Melanie Raymond 

CEO, Youth Projects.

0393049100

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