Liz Cameron-Smith interview with Lucy Loram, ABC Wide Bay

5 February 2024

Event: Liz Cameron-Smith interview with Lucy Loram, ABC Wide Bay

Speakers: David Dowsett, Host, ABC Wide Bay. Lucy Loram, Reporter, ABC Wide Bay. Liz Cameron-Smith, CEO, Foyer Foundation

Topics: Queensland Government Youth Foyer Announcement, Homes for Queenslanders


David Dowsett, Host, ABC Wide Bay: Well, when it comes to tackling homelessness, the solution is about more than just putting a roof over someone’s head. Experts say people need access to education, employment and life skills support in order to thrive. CEO of Foyer Foundation Liz Cameron Smith says she’s excited to introduce a new facility coming soon to Hervey Bay that will create pathways for disadvantaged young people. 

Liz Cameron-Smith, CEO, Foyer Foundation: A Youth Foyer is a home for a young person who has been experiencing homelessness or is at risk of it, and it is essentially a place where up to 40 young people aged 16 to 24 come and live, integrated with education, employment and life skills support that they need for an independent, thriving future. 

Lucy Loram, ABC Wide Bay: Okay, so you know, it’s not just housing accommodation, it’s really this sort of one stop shop with a bunch of resources as well?

Liz: Yes. So Youth Foyers provide more than a roof over someone’s head. We know that young people need extra support to access education and employment opportunities and build basic skills like how to cook, how to clean, how to budget, and a Youth Foyer really provides all of this under one roof, with amazing youth coaches that work individually with each young person to help understand what their goals in life are and then work together to make them happen. 

Lucy: And we have one of these facilities that will soon be in Hervey Bay. Why is Hervey Bay an ideal location for one of your Youth Foyers? 

Liz: Yes. So at the moment in Wide Bay there are 1522 young people experiencing homelessness and 17% of them are in Hervey Bay, so we’re seeing just the rising cost of living alongside a rental crisis and a housing crisis, and there’s a real demand from young people in the community for opportunities like a Youth Foyer. 

Lucy: And I understand similar programs to this one or the same sort of format already exists? You’ve seen it have success in other parts of Queensland? 

Liz: So this model is actually an international model. And in Australia we have 16 accredited Youth Foyers right now, including two open in Queensland, one in the Gold Coast and one in Logan, and another one in Townsville that’s about to open its doors in the next couple of months. So it’s an evidence based response to youth homelessness with a really strong track record nationally. We know that a young person exiting a Foyer  is 80% exiting into safe and stable housing, 65% end up in secure and decent work, and they are 60% less likely to engage with the justice system. And it’s amazing to see one underway for Hervey Bay and for people of Hervey Bay to know that this is actually part of a national and global movement that is really putting young people first. 

Lucy: Liz, we’ve seen, you know, on the ground here a lot of different approaches to tackling issues with disengaged youth or people who are homeless. Why is this model different? 

Liz: The Foyer model is different because it integrates housing over a two year period with education and employment and life skills supports, all under one roof. This medium term runway is something that is often missing from the response system. And young people find that they cycle through crisis accommodation again and again, and this gives them a pathway to move from that state of crisis towards independence and their own home. 

Lucy: When can we expect to see this facility up and functioning with doors open to the public here in Hervey Bay?

Liz: Look, I’m as keen as you are to know the answer to that question, and that is probably a question for the Queensland Government 

Lucy: Well, I guess in that case, once things are up and running, how can locals here, how can our youth go about accessing these sorts of resources?

Liz: So young people can present to any of the local services who can refer young people into the Youth Foyer, and obviously places in a Youth Foyer are often in demand. The Youth Foyer works with the community service system to really make sure that every young person has the no wrong door, but the right door is available for them at the right time. If they need other services to build their readiness for a Youth Foyer, then the staff work collaboratively with the local services to make that happen. 

Charlie: CEO of Foyer Foundation Liz Cameron speaking to Lucy Loram.