For young people living rough on the streets or endlessly couch-surfing, a two-storey house in northern Brisbane has been a welcome sanctuary for almost 40 years.
Carinity Orana provides crisis accommodation for homeless people aged from 16 to 19 years and teenagers at risk of becoming homeless.
Speaking during Homelessness Week (August 2-8), Carinity Orana Program Manager Dave McNair says homelessness extends beyond people sleeping on the streets.
“Homelessness is one of the main issues affecting our youth with more than 45,000 people aged 25 years and under in Australia living without a permanent place to call home,” Dave says.
“This number includes young people who are couch surfing – moving from one short-stay accommodation to another. Other adverse factors can compound their desperation and negative living conditions.
“For some young people, being homeless and alienated from families can often result in them turning to alcohol or illicit drug use to manage their pain or mental health issues.
“Being estranged or distanced from family is often due to family breakdown and sometimes even abuse, which can dramatic impact on a young person’s long-term mental health.
“Many young people who come to Carinity Orana often have anxiety and/or depression which they are trying to manage whilst experiencing homelessness, which is not easy. Helping them is about trying to tap into a young person’s own fortitude and resilience.”
A specialist homelessness service, Carinity Orana provides immediate supported accommodation for up to five residents at a time for a maximum stay of six months, helping them to “transition to independence”.
“Young people will often come to Carinity Orana in crisis and we help them to become stable and start to help them to move forward in their lives”, says Dave, a qualified social worker in the non-government homeless sector for 24 years.
“Our youth workers assist young people to access education, training, employment, counselling services, recreational activities, new social networks and permanent accommodation.
“It is about helping young people to achieve stability in their lives so they can follow and pursue their passions and interests, and in doing so give them hope for the future.”
Established in 1981 as the Pine Rivers Youth Service at Lawnton before relocating to Bald Hills the following year, Carinity Orana has supported more than 6,000 young people.
Dave McNair at the Carinity Orana youth accommodation in Bald Hills.
One of the young people Carinity Orana has supported, Jake was 16 when he became homeless and was living a “quite depressing” life.
“I had been living with an abusive carer. I was living in a house which I could rarely leave. I felt isolated and alone. I eventually ended up living on the beach,” Jake recalls.
With the help of Carinity Orana’s youth workers, Jake resumed his schooling and graduated from high school.
“At Orana things slowly started to change for me as I felt that I could discover who I actually was. I would not be where I am today without their support. They have been there for me,” Jake says.
The community can support the young people staying at Carinity Orana by sponsoring a bed or