Caretakers Cottage Youth Accommodation

Sylvia Hale MP | Parliament of NSW | October 18, 2007

Hansard Transcript

Ms Sylvia Hale [5:25 p.m.]: At lunchtime today I had the great pleasure of attending the thirtieth birthday celebrations of Caretakers Cottage, a youth service in Bondi. Caretakers operates three different accommodation services in Sydney: a crisis refuge at Bondi for homeless children aged 12 to 17 years; Options Youth Housing, a medium-term accommodation service with properties in south-eastern Sydney for children and young people aged 15 to 24 years; and Entity, an out-of-home-care accommodation service in Hurstville for children under the care of the New South Wales Minister for Community Services.

The Greens believe in a holistic approach to homelessness. That is, it is not just about providing people with a home—although that is a basic prerequisite for moving on to education, employment, meaningful activity, and positive relationships with others. Homelessness is a physical state, but it is also a state of mind. Caretakers Cottage assists young people not only with accommodation but with all their issues, whether they be educational or legal. These homeless young people need assistance with sorting out what they want to do with the rest of their lives, and it is essential that they have a stable, affordable place to live while they are doing that. Several years ago Laurie Matthews, who 30 years ago was the founder of Caretakers Cottage and is currently the chief executive officer, described the activities of Caretakers Cottage. He said:

When young people come into our care we set about establishing, with them, a case plan that targets all significant aspects of their lives. We deal with basic survival issues such as health and safety, and family relationships, legal matters, education, employment, and training, etc. A number of these young people are able to continue their current school attendance, while we try to re-enrol others who are not long out of school.

The other day I heard a report on ABC radio that recent Melbourne research indicates that although many people with mental health problems are likely to be homeless, being homeless in itself can precipitate psychiatric disorders. Also in attendance at the birthday celebrations today was the Federal member for Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull. It is ironic that he should attend a celebration of homeless young people in his electorate. Wentworth contains some of the most advantaged postcodes not only in this State but also in this country. Indeed, the Woollahra local government area has the highest average incomes of any local government area and is home to some of the most grossly overresourced people in Australia. Yet Caretakers Cottage is only a stone's throw away from these Point Piper millionaires.

Interestingly, Malcolm Turnbull spoke about the importance of charity. During the celebrations a comment was made about how expensive it is to provide supported accommodation and assistance programs. But I think the issue to remark upon is how expensive it is not to provide those programs. If we look at the long-term cost of imprisonment, being without education, being jobless, the drain upon the social welfare system—

[Time for debate expired.]

© Parliament of NSW 2007