St John of God Health Care won the Outreach Health Care category at this year’s Catholic Health Australia Awards on 29 August with its Horizon House service that supports young people aged 16-22 who are experiencing homelessness.
The Outreach Health Care category recognises a demonstrated commitment to the healing ministry of Jesus through the development and delivery of innovative services, particularly devoted to improving the health status of the vulnerable and/or the marginalised.
One of eight outreach services delivered by St John of God Health Care, Horizon House provides safe, stable accommodation to young people aged 16-22 years who are currently experiencing or are at risk of homelessness.
The service empowers and supports these young people to build the life they want by providing a safe and stable home.
St John of God Social Outreach Director Homelessness and Support Services, Naomi Boyd said that accommodation was only part of the picture and it was the wrap-around support provided by Horizon House that made the service unique.
“While they’re with us, we focus on connecting young people with education, training and employment and on developing the essential life skills that they’ll need to live independently and look after themselves,” Naomi said.
“Many of the young people in our care have faced multiple challenges such as family conflict, physical or mental abuse, disrupted education, substance abuse and unemployment.
“We help connect them with appropriate community-based support and clinical services, and provide strengths based, trauma-informed support and case management.
“Our job is not to replace the role of parents or guardians, rather we support the young people at Horizon House to develop the skills needed to achieve their goals and realise their potential.”
Specialist support is available for young mums and their babies through the Young Mother and Baby Program and for young Aboriginal men through James Garnaut Horizon House in Broome.
Last financial year, Horizon House provided 176 young people with 42,238 nights of secure accommodation in 13 houses across Perth, regional WA and regional Victoria, including 32 young mothers and their babies. Of those young people, 44 identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
“The resilience and determination that these young people show and the way they flourish when they’re given the safety, stability and support that they need is absolutely inspiring,” Naomi said.
Last financial year 90 per cent of the young people who entered the Horizon House program transitioned into independent living. 128 accessed education and 102 were able to engage in employment opportunities. 82 per cent of young people engaged with the service said it had a positive effect on their overall wellbeing.
According to Homelessness Australia, 38 per cent of the nation’s 116 thousand homeless people are aged 12 to 24.