This is the summarised script from 4zzz – Radio Democracy – 14.05.2008.
I researched, invited guests and interviewed the story live on the radio.
Commissioner for the National Inquiry into Youth Homelessness ‘Father Wally’ details his history working for homeless young people in Brisbane and details how he set up the Youth Advocacy Centre. Wally says he was asked to be a commissioner on the first Burdegan [*] Inquiry into Youth Homelessness and he suggests this influenced his selection in the latest inquiry. Wally gives an overview of the formal hearings in every state and territory and he details how he went about writing the report. Wally says the recommendations will go directly to the PM’s Taskforce on Homelessness and the Green Paper due out later this month. Wally suggests ‘on the ground’ in Brisbane things can be done immediately with things like a welfare infrastructure at schools for early intervention. Wally details how Child Protection figures have ‘blown out’ and it is now difficult to get a young person over 14 to receive child protection services if needed. Wally suggests young people who have been in care all their lives have received little preparation for independence and are becoming homeless.
Commissioner for the National Inquiry into Youth Homelessness ‘Father Wally’ gives an overview of the findings of the National Inquiry into Youth Homelessness, saying he has mentioned findings on Child Protection and there were also findings on services for Indigenous young people being lacking. Wally says youth refuges in Aust are full, meaning only half of those who apply get in. Wally says medium and long term accommodation for young people is ‘chockers’ and there are no exit points as young people cannot get into the private rental market with costs being up. Wally says there are increasing numbers of young people with ‘high and complex needs’. Wally says there are four or five youth specific drug and alcohol services in QLD and they do a good job. Wally says there is a lack of youth specific mental health service beds and he says all these services are in the south east corner. Wally says his recommendations are about a national policy and national strategy like climate change, along with an expansion of early intervention programs. Wally says the Fed Govt put in the Reconnect Program which is ‘great’ but only covers a third of Aust. Wally says the QLD Govt has put in the ‘great’ Youth Support Coordinators Program but it does not reach all the schools it should reach. Wally says this is a funding issue in ‘one sense’ but he notes Aust has done ‘so well’ economically and the money needed is ‘peanuts’. Wally notes a helicopter project that was extremely expensive was just ‘junked’. Wally says he thinks Child and Youth Mental Health Services do a good job and they are looking expand services in QLD.
Commissioner for the National Inquiry into Youth Homelessness ‘Father Wally’ continues the discussion on youth homelessness, giving advice on what to do when one is asked for money by a homeless person, stressing the importance of treating them like a human being and giving advice on where to refer people who need help. Wally details how a lot of young homeless people cannot access medical services as a lot of doctors do not bulk bill and it is ‘daunting’ to access an emergency dept. Wally details how a doctor, lawyer and some teachers have asked how they can help and he says people need to look where they can ‘insert’ themselves. Wally lists places around for homeless young people, including Brisbane Youth Service, the Salvation Army, Teen Challenge, Mission Australia and the police in the Valley, who he says have a program ‘something about the beat’ who are doing good programs with young people.