Transitioning young people out of homelessness with Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Foresight Lane
There are an estimated 100,000 people who are homeless on any given night in Australia; over a third of whom are young people. Youth refuges play a key role in Victoria’s response to homelessness.
At their best, youth refuges support young people to transition into secure housing. At their worst, the system provides a quick fix with many gaps that see young people trapped in cycles of homelessness.
Today worked with Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, the youth refuge service sector, and young people experiencing homelessness to co-design a more cohesive and effective youth refuge system.
The complexity of youth homelessness meant that this project needed to engage with the whole sector. The success of our work is a result of conducting participatory design activities with current and former users of refuge services, a diversity of refuge service providers and the administrators of refuge service funding.
Responsible and human-centred research
We visited young people at times and places that suited them, helping to get a real understanding of their world. We completed in-context, semi-structured, generative conversations using ‘collage kits’. These kits gave participants a safe way to express their ideas and experiences.
Serving a vulnerable cohort through strategic design
The impact of the work is best expressed in the words of our senior client from DHHS, Mary Riley, who told us:
“This work gives a voice to those who are at the frontline of young people experiencing homelessness—from vulnerable young people in need to those best placed to help them. Today have armed us with a cohesive service model that will keep young people safe, and transition them to sustainable housing options.”
Solutions designed and owned by the actors
The accomplishments of the Youth Refuges work owe as much to the process of co-designing concepts as the output. We worked with more than 120 professionals responsible for administrating and delivering youth refuge services.
We held a forum and workshops in which these professionals developed, prototyped and tested concepts. They also discussed, reflected and learned with each other. As a result, the reform agenda reflects the voice and understanding of the sector itself.