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We're partnering with Heinz Australia to bring comfort food and much needed funds for the winter.

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Homelessness has increased in inner Melbourne by 28% and people living in rooming houses, overcrowded short term accommodation and rough sleeping are doing so hard yards.

Our after hours night nursing team have been distributing soup and beanies, while a special Heinz Food Truck will be in Federation Square on Thursdays serving soup with all funds going back to our services.

Did you know research by the City of Melbourne shows

  • 7 percent of adult residents in the CoM worried about whether their food would run out before they got money to buy more.
  • A quarter  of these respondents reported that they felt concern about putting enough food on the table on a monthly basis.
  • Six percent reported that they or other adults in the household cut the size of their meals or skip meals as a way of coping with not having enough money for food. Twenty nine percent of these respondents reported that this was happening on a monthly basis.

For individuals and families, homelessness makes it difficult to engage in education and training and can leave people vulnerable to violence, victimisation, long term unemployment and chronic ill-health. Some health problems are a consequence (but can also be a cause) of homelessness, including poor nutrition, poor dental health, substance misuse, and mental health problems.

Our services help prevent people at risk of homelessness falling further into poverty with specialist support to go back to education, learn new skills, find a job, access free medical care, mental health counselling and genuinely feel a valued part of our community.

You can donate funds to support people who are homeless, cold and hungry in Melbourne at  Donations over $2.00 are tax deductible.


Our Youth Week film competition included entries of all kinds. But it was 12 year old Emily from Sunbury who took out the prize.

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Youth Projects, in a partnership with Neami National YFLEX  hosted a short film festival on the 19 April 2018 for people 12-25 about ‘what is important to you’. First prize was a  $300 voucher of their choosing, with runners all receiving a $200 and $100 voucher of their choosing.

Emily is a passionate film maker who just wishes most of her school work could be presented in film. Her short film looks at what it might be like to flee your home and become a refugee.

Look out for more from Emily in the years ahead. Thank you to all the entrants and the team involved in organising the event.



The inaugural Youth Project's Art & Soul exhibition and silent auction was held on Wednesday 28th February 2018.

The Art and Soul exhibition celebrated art and its ability to connect and empower people.

This unique exhibition showcased the work of artists who have experienced homelessness or trauma, by auctioning their creations alongside works for sale that have been donated by renowned figures in the Australian art scene. Youth Project has a well established art therapy program open to any client, with no experience needed. A wide variety of techniques and media are available and the purpose is to empower and support those who join the group.

The art that gives back.

The Art & Soul exhibition, hosted by ABC’s Jacinta Parsons, auctioned donated artworks from renowned figures in the Australian art scene as well as artists in Youth Projects art therapy program.

Proceeds raised from the sale of  clients’ art works  have gone directly to clients. All other proceeds from the sale of the art will assist Youth Projects in providing critical and unique front line services to Melbourne’s most vulnerable.

Youth Projects Chair, Melanie Raymond, says the artworks showcases the exquisite talents of people Youth Projects artists who have experienced homelessness or trauma.

“Loneliness and exclusion are key drivers of homelessness and only now are such factors being recognised as part of the solutions to widespread homelessness.

“When you give people outlets to build their feel self worth and dignity after long periods of exclusion, we can then build on the positivity and motivation that art delivers.

“The solutions to homelessness are more than just bricks and mortar, they need to be a raft of creative ways that empower and deliver trust and honesty,” Raymond says,

Youth Projects provides a free medical clinic, mental health and drug counselling, outreach support services, employment and training for people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage.

Youth Projects’ CEO Ben Vasilou said the Art & Soul exhibition is not only a fundraising endeavour.

“By exhibiting their works side-by-side, we hope attendees will view all of the creators under the one umbrella, simply as artists,regardless of social status”.

The Art & Soul exhibition was made possible through the generous contributions from its charity partner Brookfield and the Pullman on the Park Hotel.

Special thanks to all the extraordinary artists from Swan Street Studios who have generously donated their work and time to assist in this event, to the very talented Youth Projects clients for sharing their work, and to our partners – Brookfield and The Pullman on The Park hotel for their support, without which this event would not be possible.

Thank you to Penny Lane for the photography of works.

If you are interested in exhibiting or purchasing art from partifcipants in our art group  please contact us at  The Livng Room on (03) 99452100. The next Art and Soul Exhibition is planned for early 2019.

Click link to view all the photos

 Paulyo – Suns above the Town

Raph – Melbourne Cityscape

Gail T – Untitled

 Matt B – Magnificent

Matt B – Benevolent

 Matt B – Malevolent

 Pjay S – The Journey

Adam J – Dolphins

Joe Blundell

Joe Blundell

Robin Stewart

Robin Stewart

Gemma Donnellan

Katherine Edwards

Phillipa Croll

Jill Kempson

Clive Townsend

Clive Townsend

Jill Lewis

Elena Berkovich

Elena Berkovich

Elena Berkovich
Christine Cropley

Mario Cioni

Rita Camenzuli

Laure Rachon

Rosemary Macindoe

Prue Kirkcaldie

David Milne

Sally Madden

Jean Brinkman-Evans
 Meg O’Shannassy



We give people the chance to learn to cook for themselves, clean, manage their health and nutrition along with household finances.

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Our Life Skills program feeds people, but it’s no soup kitchen.

Along the way its a chance to feel included, meet people and access support and care for others.

Hunger in our food rich city

People who are homeless eat on average only 14 meals a week. Many people  report skipping meals and having to chose between eating properly and other essential needs such as phone credit or transport costs.

Less than 10% of Melbourne’s homeless eat foods from all five food groups, 73% state that they go to sleep hungry at least once a week, 65% state they have to beg for food and 53% report not eating for two or more consecutive days a week.

Research shows that people who are homeless have limited economic resources to meet all basic living costs and related disadvantages that may impact access to food including limited transport or unsuitable preparation/storage facilities. They also have high reliance on supports such as emergency relief and community meal programs.

There are currently at least 1002 people experiencing homelessness in the City of Melbourne with around 240 people on the street who were sleeping rough/had improvised accommodation, 118 people staying with friends and family, 872 people living in room or boarding houses and 211 in Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) accommodation.

Homelessness and access to food

Research by the City of Melbourne shows that for people experiencing homelessness:

  • The proximity of emergency relief places within a small area contributes to their ease of accessing food, as it allows them to access meals or food packages without the need for public transport. This is deemed integral for people who are homeless who cannot afford to use public transport or who suffer psychological distress/paranoia when on public transport due to the large crowds and thus avoid its use.
  • Psychological conditions such as depression and paranoia leave them with uncertainty as to when and how they would access their next meal.
  • Distorted eating habits were apparent for people who are homeless. Homeless individuals reported eating large quantities of food when they were able to due to an uncertainty as to when they would get their next meal. Some go for days without eating and survive on coffee and cigarettes.
  • A lack of storage facilities or ability to carry a lot of food around whilst sleeping rough is a barrier for people who are homeless.
  • Poor quality, unhealthy foods at emergency food relief centres.
  • Some avoid attending soup vans due to their being parked in key places and not wanting to be stigmatized by passers by. There can also be a lack of control and coordination of food handouts by soup vans resulting in a form of chaos.

Food security

The issue of food security has long been recognised for populations and individuals in remote communities, but it is only in the last ten years that there has been increased awareness of its existence in the urban setting. Food security is a multidimensional concept and is defined as a state in which:

  • All people have equitable access to food;
  • Access to food is consistent;
  • People can access food from normal channels, and not from emergency relief sources of other coping mechanisms;
  • People have access to enough food to meet their dietary requirements for a healthy and active life; and
  • The food available is safe, nutritious, culturally appropriate and produced in environmentally sustainable ways that promote strong communities

Youth Projects specialist youth employment program Transition to Work has won five national awards for achieving the best outcomes for at risk youth. Operating in Melbourne’s North West region, one of the nation’s “hot spots” for youth disadvantage and unemployment, we have already placed over 240 of a 400 strong case load of unemployed young people back into education or sustainable employment this past year.

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And our service is making real inroads into the teen jobless rate.  We’ve achieved a very high rate of success putting young people back on the road to life long learning, skills and employment, while cutting the cost of  welfare benefits. In doing so, we know that our social impact and return on investment is high.

The Transition to Work is vital in turning around Australia’s high rates of youth unemployment and pathways into youth homelessness.

The latest DSS data reveals the number of Australians on Newstart or Youth Allowance has risen 1.4 per cent to 878,073 in the past year. And three-quarters of people on Newstart have been out of work for more than a year, many for much longer. It’s vital young school leavers are properly supported as soon as possible to work out their strengths, capabilities and goals in life and have a chance to put their dreams into place.

Our intensive, pre-employment support improves  work-readiness  and helps young people into work (including apprenticeships and traineeships) or education. Our priority is  on helping young people with practical skills and insights, so they  understand what is expected in the workplace and can develop the skills, attitudes and behaviours expected by employers.

We know the power of jobs and education in transforming lives and communities.

Youth Projects has a strong record of success working with at risk youth with high impact support.  In fact our team have won national awards for achieving the best outcomes using innovative ideas  In late 2016 we were also awarded “Best Youth Employment Service” at the Long Term Unemployment Conference in Brisbane. We’re based at our Glenroy youth space and also have multiple locations in the north west. Our approach is inclusive, flexible, non-traditional and non-judgemental.

The Glenroy Youth Space  in Hartington St, Glenroy  is a multipurpose  space designed in consultation with local young people to meet the needs they identified for activity, connection, creativity and access to  integrated support services. We thank our partners CoAct and all those who have donated funds to support at risk teens into work and skills and out of an almost certain path of long term poverty.

Find our more about our impact and recipe for success here

Want to join in or refer a friend? Contact us for a confidential chat on how we can help on 93049100 or

Our social enterprise cafe Good 2 Go helps young people gain access to much needed skills and confidence to boost their transition to employment.  Good 2 Go is a supportive, learning environment in bustling Hosier Lane with a track record of participants moving into work as a result of this experience.

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Tucked into Hosier Lane, one of Melbourne’s premiere tourist destinations, the cafe is staffed by the organisation’s clients who receive mentoring in hospitality and life skills, as well as long-term plans to ensure they have the confidence and capability to go on to secure employment.

Chair of Youth Project’s board of directors, Melanie Raymond, said as an organisation dedicated to providing opportunities to young people, particularly those facing disadvantage, we wanted to create the work experience opportunities that they were not getting access to and that were holding them back in the job market.

“So a social enterprise cafe where they could, for the first time in their lives, gain some real life work experience was a breakthrough for us in how we work with long-term unemployed young people.”

She said the concept development lasted for 12 months before the organisation “just dived in”, and budgeted the cost of the fit-out and employed a cafe manager to oversee the training.

“If we waited for it to be perfect, we’d still be thinking about it today,” she said.

“We’re running a complex care facility… employing doctors and nurses and social workers, and we were suddenly having to learn about the price of coffee beans and milk frothing techniques.

“It was a big leap into something quite different, but we really learnt on our feet and it’s overwhelmingly been a successful experience with only a few hiccups along the way.”

While the profits from Good 2 Go are channelled into Youth Projects’ homelessness services, Raymond said the primary purpose of the enterprise is to help young people become job ready, while covering its operational cost.

“We look for people who we know will not be able to experience work experience, to access work experience in the mainstream workforce.

“They’re people who have got multiple barriers, and we give them the opportunity to try a real life experience of the world of work, of teamwork and expectations.”

The cafe is also located adjacent to the organisation’s primary health service, The Living Room, which provides cross-over support for workers.

“We have a range of experts on site at all times, which means we’re able to better support people who might have particular difficulties getting into work experience and job readiness, it’s unique in that respect,” Raymond said.

“So if a client is facing a difficulty and presents unwell, we’re able to pick that up very quickly. We’re sympathetic to the special needs and problems they might have, and support them through their transition into work readiness, rather than be very unsympathetic and blunt.

“That’s one of their worst fears, that they won’t be treated well, they’ll be bullied and not respected.”

She said that the young people embraced the opportunity to work, and the impact on their lives quickly became apparent.

“Some of them have been very socially isolated and fearful, and we’ve had a very rapid turnaround in their interpersonal skills, where they are laughing, joking, feeling confident, taking on new aspects of the work,” she said.

“[We target] the soft skills that are so important to employers around eye-contact, self-confidence, communication, self-esteem and initiative so that they are suited to work anywhere.

“If you have boosted those areas then you’re going to perform much better at job interviews after the experience. All six of the first trainees have moved on into job readiness and employment, and we’re just starting a new intake of trainees now.”

“Many clients of ours who are in Melbourne’s south and north don’t have experience of coming into the city, it’s not that far away but it’s where the jobs are, so they’re feeling quite excluded,” she said.

“We were seeing so many young people who were very isolated and locked into an environment where no one in their neighbourhood has any access to upward social mobility.

“Broadening their horizons around job opportunities and the kinds of work they aspire to has been part of what we’re doing.”

The atmosphere of Good 2 Go is a significant part of its commercial and social success. Raymond said each day is full of “colour and movement” with a retro soundtrack that adds to the vibe of the laneway.

The cafe itself is frequented by tourists, Youth Projects clients from The Living Room, and other Melburnians.

It also sells art projects made by clients, as well as second-hand clothing with the proceeds going to the organisation’s women’s group.

There is an emphasis on involving Youth Project’s clients in the day-to-day life of the cafe.

“We run a lively pay-it-forward coffee scheme because it’s located in the same building as our primary health service, which means there could be 60 or 70 people a day coming through who are experiencing primary homelessness, poor nutrition, they are hungry and they are lonely,” Raymond said.

“So the capacity to be able to provide an outlet where they too can enjoy some of Melbourne’s finest coffee was something that we wanted to do as well.

“And the public responded very, very well – and even tourists – to the very simple idea of pay it forward for someone in need.”

Because Good 2 Go is designed to have a direct social impact, rather than serve as a purely commercial venture to drive revenue, the expectations of its profitability need to be managed.

“I think the revenue potential is too small to ever possibly fund high-impact programs, but there are a wide range of additional benefits that come with doing that, in terms of opening up opportunities for people who are marginalised, in terms of changing the way you think and changing the skillset of your employees,” Raymond said.

“We’re also developing a range of products for the tourist market because over 2,000 tourists a day walk past our cafe… so we recognise that we can tap into that as well.”

She said there are also plans for Youth Projects, as a Registered Training Organisation, to run other enterprises.