The first of its kind: a regional foyer model for young people in the Kimberley

Foyer Broome

With Anglicare WA, Foundation Housing Ltd and Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Organisation, Broome, Western Australia

Safe and culturally sensitive accommodation is foundational for young people to thrive, and yet too many Aboriginal young people in the Kimberley are unable to secure the kind of accommodation that would see them succeed in education, employment and training.

Developed in urban settings, the Foyer Model has shown success nationally and internationally in addressing homelessness for young people.

Working with young people and communities from across the Kimberley to adapt the model to a regional setting, this project aims to improve housing and education and employment outcomes for young people in Broome.

More than 6%

of the Kimberley’s total population is homeless

Almost 100%

of the homeless population are Aboriginal people

One in Eight

of all Aboriginal people in the Kimberley living with some form of homelessness.

The problem

Relevant and accurate data on localised housing needs for Aboriginal young people in Broome, and in the wider Kimberley region, is difficult to come by. What we do know is that Western Australia has the highest percentage of Aboriginal homeless youth and that the majority of this population is concentrated in the Kimberley region.

A major contributor to the high rates of homelessness amongst Aboriginal young people is the absence of culturally appropriate and affordable housing in Broome. Broome is the region’s major service and sociocultural centre and is a key point in the mobility pathways of Aboriginal young people. The Foyer project aims to meet the needs for local young people struggling with housing but also to create opportunities for young people who move to Broome for work, study or services. This population migrates into Broome for education, employment and training opportunities, but, separated from their communities, are vulnerable to becoming stuck and falling into an in-between lifestyle that forces them into the peripheral of the service community, eliminating their opportunities and greatly increasing their risk of homelessness.

During the co-design process, local needs are to take priority and will be aligned with the existing Foyer framework to construct a new model of regional youth housing for Aboriginal young people, the first of its kind.

Our impact

Anglicare WA, Foundation Housing Ltd and the Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Organisation have formed a consortium to pursue this Foyer model. With Innovation Unit’s support, the consortium will explore methods for addressing housing need for young people from across the Kimberley who make Broome a base for employment, education or training.

The Foyer Model has shown great success locally and internationally in supporting young people to secure safe housing and thrive in their chosen careers. Foyer projects combine housing with individualised support and access to education and training opportunities so that young people can secure a positive future. Most Foyer projects have been in big cities, which present different challenges to rural settings.

The Consortium are interested in what it would take to bring a Foyer Project to Broome. Through the North West Aboriginal Housing initiative, the consortium has commitment from the WA Department of Communities to develop a business model for a service that addresses the housing, education and employment needs of at-risk young people in Broome.

Drawing on the existing knowledge and strengths within people and organisations in the Kimberley, the Consortium emphasised the importance of co-designing the service model with the local community. With support from Innovation Unit, the Consortium have convened a design team of local young people and community members along with staff from local service providers and Aboriginal corporations, who will participate in the co-design activities.

Kicking off with an introduction to the principles of co-design for social innovation, the Foyer Broome Design Team shared their hopes and fears, revealing a shared vision for the project where young people who make Broome home can access safe, supported accommodation that is culturally sensitive and family inclusive.

“I feel excited for young people in the Kimberley to have this opportunity. Housing was an issue for me when I was younger growing up in Broome. This will give young people the opportunity to connect and leave a mark in their community.” Design Team Participant

The Design Team is about to embark on the discovery phase of the project. Supported by Innovation Unit, Design Team members will collect data about best practices in the design and delivery of accommodation for at-risk young people. To understand what high-quality, impactful service delivery might look like, the Design Team will get out into the field to learn from other services. Given Broome’s remoteness, the Team will conduct Virtual Service Safaris: ‘experiencing’ the service across distance through a facilitated video walkthrough. Insights from both the desktop and field research will be synthesised into a set of key insights and design principles about the local need and best practice.

Culminating in a viable service model targeting the intersection of housing need, education and employment, this project is an important step toward improving outcomes for young people relocating to Broome. By engaging with communities across the Kimberley and developing a business case to secure additional funding, this project is a step toward ensuring young people can access stable accommodation and receive the support they need to thrive.