A local approach to youth homelessness yields extraordinary results

The teachers had noticed Josh*, 17, seemed hostile.

In class he was belligerent, closed off. And there was that incident with a box saw, when he cut up a school table. Josh wanted to quit school. Something was wrong at home, but no one could get him to open up.

So a teacher pulled aside Michael* – a social worker who visited the school weekly – and asked him to intervene.

“They said Josh isn’t going well. He’s angry and moody in class,” he said.

A modest community project to decrease the number of students becoming homeless and leaving school has achieved extraordinary success, and sparked interest in state and federal education departments.

The Geelong Project – the brainchild of local schools and youth services – has produced a 40 per cent reduction over three years in the number of homeless students asking for help, and a 20 per cent reduction in those leaving school early.

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