Foyer Port Adelaide is located in a repurposed 1800s hotel in the port-side region of Adelaide, 14km northwest of the Adelaide CBD. The development was saved as a heritage listed building and contributes significantly to community activity and business renewal in the immediate precinct, with the revitalisation prompting renewed retail investment in Port Adelaide.
Situated within walking distance of education centres, including the local high school and TAFE, public services such as a medical centre, Centrelink, Job Network providers, SA Housing Authority, and local shopping centres. Access to public transport is available on the doorstep, enabling young people to easily access university or employment in the CBD.
The Foyer is a mixed-use facility of 23 single occupancy apartments over two stories, with private meeting rooms, staff amenities, a communal kitchen/lounge, computer facilities, and a conference room available for community hire. Several commercial tenancies on the ground level complete the mix of surrounding opportunities.
Young people are encouraged to make the apartment their own, and style it according to their needs and taste. Foyer Port Adelaide Service Manager, Celeste Iannella, says this helps give young people a sense of agency and ownership that encourages them to take care of their apartment.
“We give young people a $350 ‘starter-kit’ to buy essential items, such as bedding, towels and kitchen utensils”, said Celeste. “We work with them to develop a list of needs and budget, but what they choose is up to them.”
As well as enabling young people to make the apartment their own, this process helps establish peer mentoring relationships between the young person and other tenants, who accompany them shopping.
The property is owned by the SA Housing Authority (SAHA). Young people sign an initial 12-month lease with SAHA and pay 25% of their income as rent (including utilities), which usually equates to about $113.00 per fortnight. Most young people go on to sign an additional lease, for an average tenancy length of 18 months.
Monthly activities focus on independent living, soft skill development and celebration of diversity. Young people participate in sessions such as work readiness, yoga and meditation, and ‘Around the World’ dinners.
Whether it’s hosting events on the balcony or brokering individual relationships, workers are always seeking out and developing local community connections. These connections are especially strong with local First Nations communities and have included a variety of activities such as regular young men’s and young women’s ‘Yarning Circles’.
The ‘Grannies Group’, comprised of female Aboriginal Elders, meet fortnightly at Foyer and provide intergenerational support for both workers and young people. This is particularly valuable at Foyer, where young people from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds generally comprise around 30% of residents.
Foyer Port Adelaide maintains strong links with the Port Adelaide Enfield City Council, which gives young people access to a range of diverse opportunities.
“We’ve worked closely with the Council on a range of programs and opportunities”, said Celeste. “For example, they’ve invited young people at Foyer to participate in their Local Jobs for Local People networking breakfasts, where young people participate in a speed dating like arrangement with potential employers.”
During school holidays Reclink provide Foyer young people with opportunities to participate in recreational activities including, kayaking, bowling and trips to the zoo.
“While employment and education are a vital part of the deal”, said Celeste, “it’s also really important for young people to have fun. Part of our ethos is striking a balance”.
Advocating for young people and providing them with a platform to share their ideas and opinions are also key at Foyer Port Adelaide. Foyer young people have travelled interstate to participate in past Australia Foyer Conferences and a member of the Foyer Alumni has delivered presentations at the Anglicare Australia Conference and internal St John’s Youth Services training, where he spoke about his F2M transition experience.
Most recently, several young people exhibited their photography at a Feast exhibition hosted by St John’s Youth Services.
“Young people never cease to amaze us,” said Celeste. “Their perseverance, curiosity, humour and sometimes brutal honesty make each day at Foyer Port Adelaide rewarding and unique.”