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April 17 is Youth Homelessness Matters Day and the Property Industry Foundation marked this important national awareness event by holding a  Friends of the Foundation Boardroom lunch at Allens law firm in Brisbane.

This relaxed and informative lunch gathered leaders in the construction and property industry to discuss youth homelessness in Australia and potential housing and support solutions.

Young real estate professional Damon Walker shared his lived experience of homelessness and mental health struggles and how he wound up sleeping in his car and couch surfing as a vulnerable teenager. With the lifeline of stable accommodation, Damon was able to achieve his dream job of working full-time as a sales associate for Ray White Commercial Burleigh. Damon is part of a growing number of young people who are part of the ‘hidden homeless’ population – almost one third of 15-24 year olds presenting alone to youth services were couch surfing previously. (AIHW2023)

24 QLD Youth Homelessness Matter Day Boardroom Lunch

Guests at the lunch also watched a short video presentation from Trish Connolly, CEO of YFoundations, the NSW peak body advocating for young people at risk of and experiencing homelessness, and the services that support them about their work and ongoing petition to end youth homelessness.

“The Boardroom Lunch is a great opportunity to hear from people who are working with homeless youth to understand their daily challenges,” says the Property Industry Foundation’s QLD Board of Advisors Chair, Salvatore Guardala, who attended the lunch. “It gets us thinking on what we can do to stop the cycle of homelessness and brings awareness of how the property industry has taken it upon itself to help reduce homelessness. Hearing Damon’s personal story of homelessness reinstates that all people should have a roof over their head every night and the positive outcomes that can occur when at-risk youth are given a home and the right support.”

Helping with the organisation of the lunch was Jackson Hills, Manager, Policy and Strategic Engagement at Q Shelter, Queensland’s peak body for affordable housing and homelessness services and Lorraine Dupree, Queensland Youth Housing Coalition’s Executive Director. Both are valued members of our Board of Advisors in QLD.  “Even though it is a small group gathering for lunch, we are representing a very large industry that is creating homes for homeless youth,” says Sal. “Our industry is very generous and is ready to create homes quickly. It’s vital to get together so that we can share ideas on how we can create opportunities.”

Video address from CEO of YFoundations Trish Connolly

What is Youth Homelessness Matters Day?

Since 1990, YHMD has raised awareness and discussion about youth homelessness in Australia. Held on the third Wednesday of April each year, the day provides an opportunity to advocate for the needs of children and young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness and to advocate for sustainable and innovative solutions, such as the Property Industry Foundation’s The Haven Project.