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Youth with a lived experience of homelessness help inform student-generated shelter ideas

Published:22 August 2019

A multidisciplinary group of students, from across the University’s footprint, recently converged on the Gladstone Marina campus for an immersive Social Innovation workshop.

Given 23 per cent of homeless people are aged between 12 and 24 years, it’s no wonder that CQUniversity partnered with not-for-profit Roseberry Qld to provide its students with a unique opportunity to explore youth homelessness.

A multidisciplinary group of students, from across the University’s footprint, recently converged on the Gladstone Marina campus for an immersive three-day Social Innovation workshop centred around the statement ‘How might we explore and develop a concept for the future needs of a youth homeless shelter?’

Event organiser, CQUniversity Social Innovation Program Manager Ashley Clarke explained that the workshop agenda included a range of activities that helped students to build their capacity in several key areas including leadership, problem-solving, empathy and teamwork.

“Students heard and learned from Queensland Youth Housing Coalition Inc. Executive Director Maria Leebeek, Fab Ideas Pty Ltd Director Elmira Esfahani, CQUniversity Office of Social Innovation facilitators - myself and Steve Williams, and youth who have a lived experience of homelessness, as well as participated in a site visit to Gladstone’s Roseberry House," Ms Clarke said

“The insight gained from these stakeholders helped students to develop plausible concepts for a progressive youth homeless shelter that meets the needs of its occupants. These concepts were pitched to a panel of external judges on the final day of the workshop, and will feed into Roseberry Qld's Shelteristic 2025 project"

External judges included CQUniversity Associate Vice-Chancellor (Gladstone Region) Professor Owen Nevin, Roseberry Qld General Manager Colleen Tribe, Gladstone Regional Council Councillor Glenn Churchill, and Elmira Esfahani of Fab Ideas Pty Ltd.

The winning design concept was Integrated Spaces with Purpose, which was developed and pitched by Justina O'Connor (Bachelor of Psychological Science), Samrat Handa (Master of Project Management), Andrew Murray (Bachelor of Business) and Ngaouea Neemia (Master of Management for Engineers).

Justina explained that the key insight that informed the group's concept was gained during conversations with Roseberry Qld's staff and clients.

"We discovered that the current spaces available were not meeting the needs of young people. So, we developed a safe space concept that promotes well-being, creates a sense of community, and most of all, feels like a home," Ms O'Connor said.

"Throughout the workshop, we learned how important the consultation process is when taking on a project that affects so many people. This not only helps provide great inspiration for ideas but helps provide parameters when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of the design phase.

"In addition, rather than looking for others to take action first, we learned that we can be the change-makers - making the world a better place for everyone to live.

"This was such a great immersive experience. Being able to take part in the consultation process and pitching our design concepts really gave previous academic learning new life and meaning."

Panel judge, Colleen Tribe of Roseberry Qld said the Gladstone-based community organisation set out to challenge CQUniversity students to design youth homeless shelters for its Shelteristic 2025 project.

“Our existing shelters are really good, but they don’t necessarily fit today’s society – as in there are certain groups of youth that our shelters don’t really cater for – so we are moving with the times and developing a strategy for the optimum shelter,” Ms Tribe said.

“Each of the student-generated concepts far exceeded my expectations. Students tapped into the needs of current Roseberry House clients to generate innovative and dignified shelter ideas that allow for sustainable tenancies and adaptability.

“These ideas will form part of our Shelteristic 2025 project, which was developed in response to the Queensland Housing Strategy 2017 – 2027. Once the project is complete, we aim to bring it to fruition by initiating funding discussions with the Queensland Government’s Department of Housing and Public Works.”

Fellow panel judge, Professor Owen Nevin said the event provided students with an opportunity to create a positive, widespread impact.

“CQUniversity’s partnership with Roseberry Qld helped give our students a voice. The concepts generated during this three-day workshop may someday help youth during their most vulnerable states – now that’s inspiring,” Professor Nevin said.

“This is the fourth social innovation workshop event for Gladstone, and it was great to see this one tailored to such a prominent local issue. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the robust student discussions and hearing their state-of-the-art ideas.”

The event has been made possible thanks to a partnership with Roseberry Qld, and sponsorship from Savour the Flavour and Central Apartment Group.