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ENGAGE is a youth philanthropy program of the Give Where You Live Foundation in partnership with Barwon Child, Youth & Family and Gforce Employment Solutions. The program educates and empowers young people age 15-25 years old in the G21 region to effect positive change, by identifying youth issues that are important to them and making grants to organisations working on these issues.

In 2016 ENGAGE worked with 12 diverse young people from across the region to pilot the first year of the program. Working with the partner organisations the young people focussed on the issue of youth homelessness, developed and implemented an application and review process and made a grant recommendation to the Give Where You Live Board.

2016 Issue – The Effects of Youth Homelessness

Homelessness remains a chronic issue in our community. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011) indicated there were almost 750 homeless people in the G21 region (G21 Region Profile, October 2014). Nationally 17% of those identified as homeless were between the ages of 15 and 25.

Homelessness can mean a number of things – couch surfing with family and friends, living in a car, sleeping rough in the streets or park areas. And the causes are varied – domestic violence, a shortage of affordable housing, unemployment, mental illness, family breakdown and drug and alcohol abuse all contribute to homelessness in the region.

The Cost of Youth Homelessness Report (April 2016) highlighted the impact of homelessness on young people, finding that homeless youth experience:

  • Higher levels of psychological distress. 61% of the homeless young women participating in the study (and 51% of the men) experienced very high or high distress, compared with 19% of female (and 12% of male) young Australians in the general population.
  • Much higher incidence of reported non-suicidal self-injury and attempted suicide. One in five (20%) homeless young women (and 12% of young men) had attempted suicide in the previous six months. More than one in four (28%) young homeless women (and 17% of young men) had engaged in non-suicidal self-injury behaviours. Just over half (55%) of homeless youth who had attempted suicide in the past six months had not received any counselling or professional support for this.
  • Significantly higher unemployment rates. Nearly one quarter (22%) of homeless young people have never had a paid job in their lifetime, compared with only 6% of young jobseekers.
  • Greater likelihood of leaving school early. Only one third (31%) of homeless young people had completed Year 12, compared with 57% of young job seekers.
  • Poorer health outcomes. Around a third of homeless respondents reported having a long-standing physical health condition.
  • Higher prevalence of mental health conditions. Over half (53%) of homeless young people reported that they had been diagnosed with at least one mental health condition in their lifetime, compared to 26% of young people in the general population (who met the criteria for diagnosis of a lifetime prevalence of a mental health disorder and experiencing symptoms in the previous year).

2016 Grants

In 2016 ENGAGE provided small grants of $5,000-$15,000 to organisations that were seeking to impact the effects of youth homelessness including, but not limited to: poor mental and physical health; the stigma attached to being homeless and social isolation experienced while homeless; and the lack of access to nutritional food, personal hygiene and transitional/emergency accommodation.

The grants were open to not for profit organisation, incorporated bodies, schools cooperatives, associations or registered charitable organisations who have an ABN and are considered Tax Concession Charities in the G21 region(Borough of Queenscliffe, City of Greater Geelong, Colac Otway Shire, Golden Plains Shire, Surf Coast Shire).

2016 Grant Recipients

We are pleased to announce the inaugural ENGAGE Grant Recipients:

bluebirdBluebird Foundation – $15,000 – To break down the stigma of youth homelessness and build community connections through Athena’s Guild a community-based arts and health project that brings together 5 professional musicians/song-writers and 5 homeless youth. Through the program they work together in pairs and in group workshops to write and perform songs that tell their stories. The project will culminate in a public performance event.

47-the-ladderThe Ladder Project Foundation – $10,000 – To improve the mental and physical wellbeing of young people at risk of or who are homeless in Geelong. 15 participants in the Ladder program will learn about respectful relationships, sexual health as well as managing and coping techniques through art and music therapy. These skills and knowledge learnt will last their lifetime.


For questions about the 2017 ENGAGE program or grants please contact Cynthia Scherer via email or phone (03) 5229-4364.