Hope for homeless

Melton mayor Bob Turner, Hope Street's Donna Bennett and Serap Ozdemir.

More crisis response services will be made available to Melton’s homeless youth thanks to a $1.8 million boost.

Homelessness service provider Hope Street was last week approved funding, to be distributed over the next five years, from The Ian Potter Foundation grants program.

Hope Street chief executive Donna Bennett said the money would be used to establish its youth mobile outreach service based at Taylors Hill and Melton, and help towards building a youth refuge centre in Melton.

The state government has already committed $5.4 million over the next four years to fund the centre.

“The funding from The Ian Potter Foundation will help us to deliver an emergency mobile outreach service to young people aged between 16 and 25 from this area who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,” Ms Bennett said.

“There is no specialist homelessness crisis response service in Melton so young people have to travel at least 27 kilometres to Sunshine which is the nearest homelessness service.

“They normally have to travel by V/Line train which means it’s not very accessible for them.

“This outreach service will provide young people with an immediate response.

“Our workers will go out to wherever the people are, whether that be in school, at a police station, at the hospital, a friends house or in a park … we’ll be available seven days a week.”

Ms Bennett said Hope Street’s long-running partnership with a raft of youth service providers, the Ian Potter Foundation and Melton council was crucial to its existence.

“We want to be able to showcase Melton as a leading municipality in responding to homelessness,” she said.

“This new service will provide significant interventions enabling young people to move out of homelessness.

“This will send messages to other people in the community about these innovative models that can be transferred in other local government areas.”

Melton mayor Bob Turner said he was delighted about the new outreach service.

“This … will go a long way to helping young people experiencing homelessness in our community,” Cr Turner said.

“I commend Hope Street for their dedication in bringing this project to life, and Melton City Council is proud to support such a worthy, and much-needed initiative.”