Impact Report 2022—2023

Luke’s Story – Care that kickstarted a career

Exterior of a block of units at sunset.

When Luke talks about his new home, his whole face lights up. 

“Pretty much daily I will just stop and marvel at it, the way the light hits different parts of the walls.” 

The house is also a bit of a metaphor. 

“When we moved in it was not at all perfect. It had a lot of problems, a lot of holes that needed filling and things to be fixed. My fiancé and I have given it so much time and love and made it a space that we can thrive in, kind of like how the cards we were dealt weren’t the greatest, but we’ve made the best of it.” 

Luke’s life has come full circle in many ways since his time living in one of Launch Housing’s Education First Youth Foyers a few years ago – to a career in the same field that helped him when he faced homelessness.  

The Foyer works to break the cycle of homelessness by supporting young people, aged 16 to 24, to build a secure and sustainable livelihood. 

By providing supported student housing, dedicated coaching, and a suite of opportunities and resources, our young people build the skills they need to lead fulfilling, independent and productive lives. 

“The path that I’m on now is very much because of those people and services. The Foyer is on that list that saved my life,” Luke says. 

“I had to uproot my entire living situation”

A few years ago, when Luke was 18, home was an increasingly emotionally abusive and unsafe place. 

“It was always my fault when anything went wrong, it made a situation where I felt I was trapped, and I couldn’t really see the situation getting better,” he recalls. 

“I’d been told by my family that I was never going to be able to look after myself. I was constantly made to feel less than, and I had pretty much zero self-confidence.” 

Luke, a trans man, was told about Launch Housing’s Youth Foyers by his therapist, and they started working on a plan to get him enrolled. 

Delays with Centrelink meant that Luke couldn’t move in right away, and things escalated at home to a point where he couldn’t stay any longer.  

Luke experienced homelessness for almost two months before moving into the Foyer. He stayed with friends and house-sat when he could. His mental health deteriorated, and he began feeling suicidal. 

When he finally got the call, Luke packed and moved into one of the self-contained apartment rooms in the Education First Youth Foyer, close to the local TAFE. 

“Foyer’s so much bigger than just youth housing, it’s transformative, and deeply life changing,”

Luke, graduate of Launch Housing’s Education First Youth Foyer

A safe place to thrive

“That very first night when it was just like, me in my room, and I had my bed and a few boxes there … I finally felt safe. I was overwhelmed with just so much gratitude.” 

That night Luke says he had one of the best sleeps he’d ever had. 

“Foyer’s so much bigger than just youth housing, it’s transformative, and deeply life changing,” Luke says. 

His youth development worker, Boz, supported Luke across the 2 years he lived at the Youth Foyer, and played a huge part in inspiring Luke’s career path. 

“He would always be encouraging me to get out there and take opportunities. I felt really heard and seen by him.”  

“We would talk about LGBTQ+ and gender stuff, and he would really sit there and listen … he would go away and reflect on it, and then get back to me and be like, ‘I was thinking about what that thing you said the other day …’ — it was awesome,” Luke says. 

“Boz made me be like, yeah, I want to work here.” 

“At the Foyer, I was celebrated for my diversity and my ideas. I built so much confidence, I took up lots of opportunities” Luke says, recalling the LGBTQIA+ workshops he hosted for staff and residents. 

When Luke wanted to start exploring career paths in the social services, Launch Housing staff at the Foyer supported him all the way.  

“I couldn’t have gotten everything together without them because I needed to sort out a police check and get my first aid, stuff like that. The Foyer was even able to cover some of the costs for me.” Luke says. 

Luke also got a helpful hand when the time came to graduate from the Foyers and venture into the rental market. 

“They covered the costs of the moving truck, answered questions, showed me renters rights resources,” Luke remembers.  

Staff also linked Luke to an organisation that provides free furniture and bond funding.   

Since graduating, Luke has worked as a disability and youth support worker, something that his mentors at the Foyers helped him with advice for. 

“My mission has been to be the person I needed when I was young, and now I’ve been working with some really cool young trans people I can see myself in so much. I’ve realised that, after all the work I’d done in getting to this place, I’m finally here.” 

Bridging the gap and breaking the cycle

Rebecca, manager at the Broadmeadows Education First Youth Foyer, has been with the program for more than a decade, since the Glen Waverly Youth Foyer began in 2013.  

“It’s the students’ home, and we work in it. Having staff here all the time helps build that trust and a safe space for them,” she says. 

A number of staff are former residents, providing an extra layer of lived experience connection for the young people who walk the halls. 

“What people need is opportunities to thrive, with a bit of coaching and support along the way. We have those links and can provide those opportunities … it’s not one size fits all, everyone is on different pathways, we have people doing degrees, at high school, in apprenticeships. Their needs, their interests, their goals are super diverse.” 

84% of all the students who exited one of our Foyers were either studying and/or employed.  

Given the barriers that our young people face, this high rate is encouraging as it almost matches the 88% employment/education rate observed for all young people across the country. 

It means that stories like Luke’s are more and more frequent.  

As Rebecca says, Education First Youth Foyers are more than just housing. They provide support that enables young people like Luke to thrive, access opportunities and break the cycle of disadvantage and homelessness.  

*For privacy, Luke’s name has been changed. 

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