Research and Publications

Annual Reports

Plans & Strategies

03
September
Reconciliation Action Plan 2019-2021

Officially endorsed by Reconciliation Australia, BYS’s Reconciliation Action Plan 2019-2021 launched at the Valley Hub on 4 September 2019 with BYS Patron, Australian football legend and Gunggari and Gubbi Gubbi man, Steve Renouf. The RAP  supports the organisation in meeting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in culturally appropriate ways, ensuring they are a part of the Reconciliation journey.

Research and Publications

October
2021
Queer homelessness: the distinct experiences of sexuality and trans-gender diverse youth
Katie Hail-Jares, Rhianon Vichta-Ohlsen, Theo M. Butler & Jacqueline Byrne

Queer young people, or young people who are sexuality diverse and/or trans and gender diverse, face a higher lifetime likelihood of homelessness than their cis-heterosexual peers. However, queer young people are often treated as a homogenous group within research, a methodological decisions that obscures differences on the basis of gender identity.

August
2021
Psychological Distress Among Young People Who Are Couchsurfing
Katie Hail-Jares, Rhianon Vichta-Ohlsen, Theo Butler & Anna Dunne

In this brief report, we explore the relationship between psychological distress and couchsurfing, with attention to the latter’s transitory and cyclic nature. The Kessler scale of psychological distress (K10) was administered as part of a semi-structured interview to 63 young people who had couchsurfed within the past 18 months. A robust regression was used to explore the associations between demographic and couchsurfing factors and cumulative K10 score. Gender, cultural background, age when leaving home, and number of hosts stayed with during the last couchsurfing episode emerged as statistically significant factors. Our study finds that young people who are couchsurfing have much higher levels of psychological distress than their peers in the general population. We suggest, based on these results and others, that homelessness services should reassess how they prioritize and serve young people who are couchsurfing.

July
2021
Creating Characters as an Approach to Facilitating Learning from Lived Experience with Young People
Dr Jenny Penton, Brisbane Youth Service

While several studies about lived experiences of homelessness have been documented, these often acknowledge the challenges and barriers involved in this engagement, noting the complexities of people’s lives, the high incidence of mental health issues, substance misuse and other health problems, and the perception that this demographic is hard-to-reach and unable to meaningfully contribute.

July
2021
Learning from the Lived Experiences of Young Couch Surfers
Theo Butler, Community Advisory Group Member with lived experience of couch-surfing, Rhianon Vichta-Ohlsen, Brisbane Youth Service Research and Evaluation Manager and Dr Katie Hail-Jared, Griffith Criminology Institute

Homelessness is commonly associated with images of rough sleeping. There is, however, increasing awareness that the majority of homeless young people are surviving in a less visible way, opting to couch-surf as a way to avoid sleeping rough, to escape child safety intervention or to find safer spaces than their home environments when crisis accommodation is not available or accessible.

April
2021
A Couch is Not a Home: New Ways of Understanding and Assessing Risks with Young People Who Are Couchsurfing
Ratna Beekman, Jacqui Byrne and Rhianon Vichta-Ohlsen, Brisbane Youth Service

Couchsurfing is the most common, is the least visible, form of homelessness for young people in Australia. Faced with a lack of affordable, safe, or crisis housing options, couchsurfing is often assumed to be a safer option than other forms of homelessness.

April
2020
Finding Pride: Moving Beyond the Rainbow in Youth Homelessness Services
Theo Butler and Rhianon Vichta-Ohlsen, Brisbane Youth Service

More than half of young people who identify as Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual report compromised or below average living conditions. For Gender Diverse young people this increases to 71 per cent. LGBTIQ+ young people are twice as likely to experience homelessness compared with their heterosexual cis gendered peers, and 33 per cent of queer youth choose not to engage with crisis support centres due to anticipated discrimination.

April
2020
Youth Homelessness Support and Relationship‑Based Practice in a Time of Social Distancing
Rhianon Vichta-Ohlsen and Brisbane Youth Service Workers, Brisbane Youth Service

As Brisbane Youth Service (BYS)  transitioned the majority of its youth housing and homelessness support workers to work from home arrangements due to Covid-19 social distancing restrictions, service delivery was forced to adapt.

Using creativity and innovation in engaging with young people in the new landscape, workers not only developed new ways of working and focusing their engagement with the young people they support; they witnessed the resilience of young people through this crisis time.

February
2020
Safer inside? Comparing the experiences and risks faced by young people who couch-surf and sleep rough
Katie Hail-Jares, Rhianon Vichta-Ohlsen & Caitlin Nash

As youth homelessness has increased globally, so too has the proportion of young people who are couch-surfing. The risks involved in couch-surfing, compared to other forms of youth homelessness, are poorly understood. Drawing upon intake records from 808 homeless youth in Brisbane, Australia, the authors examine how couch-surfers compare to rough sleepers as well as other homeless youth on the basis of (1) general demographic characteristics; (2) mental and physical health; (3) legal issues; (4) relationship support; and (5) drug use.

01
November
Sustaining Young Tenancies: An Innovative Program to Prevent Homelessness
Dr Nicola Brackertz, Australia Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) and Adam Barnes, Brisbane Youth Service

How can we better sustain the tenancies of young people living in social housing?

This was the question posed by Brisbane Youth Service (BYS), and social housing providers from the Under 1 Roof consortium in 2015. Housing providers were clear that there was a gap in the service system regarding support for young tenants in social housing.

01
November
The Recovery Orientation Model in Action: How Meaningful Change Can, and Does, Happen for Homeless Young People
Jacqui de la Rue, Brisbane Youth Service

Innovative mental health approaches are needed to increase access to services that are timely, appropriate, youth-friendly, affordable, and support meaningful recovery.

01
November
We are not all the same: Exploring Difference in Young People’s Experiences of Couch Surfing Versus Sleeping Rough
Rhianon Vichta and Katie Hail-Jares, Brisbane Youth Service

Recent surveys of young Australians show more young people couch surfing than ever before, although not all classified themselves as homeless. Envisioning couch surfing as a form of extended sleep-over with a friend has contributed to the perception that couch surfing is a secondary and potentially less concerning form of homelessness; or not even a form of young homelessness at all.

01
November
Creating Digital Pathways Out of Homelessness: Digital Technology Design for Young People, Wellbeing and Engagement with Support
Rhianon Vichta, Brisbane Youth Service (BYS) and Dr Karleen Gwinner, Adjunct Research Fellow, Latrobe University, Health Sciences

Improving young people’s engagement with, and pathways through, the homelessness service systems is a priority for the Queensland youth and homelessness sectors.

01
November
The Ethical Dimension of Fundraising in the Homelessness Sector
Laura Watson, Brisbane Youth Service

Is there ever truly an ethical way of presenting someone’s suffering and misfortunes?

When speaking for others, sharing and ‘benefiting’ from someone’s own words, what ethical guideposts should we navigate by?

01
November
Creating Community: Developing a Group Work Model for Young Women with an Experience of Homelessness
Laura Christie, Brisbane Youth Service Centre for Young Women

In response to a lack of safe spaces for young women to both connect and access supports, Brisbane Youth Service Centre for Young Women has developed a unique group program open to women aged 12 to 25 years who have had an experience of homelessness. With the goal of creating a ‘community of intent’ this model draws from perspectives, frameworks and approaches such as community cultural development, intersectionality and truma-informed practice.

01
November
Using Art Therapy as a Tool for Relationship Management in Supported Residential Settings for Homeless Young People
Kristin Penhaligon and Tara Harriden, Brisbane Youth Service

A large proportion of the work in a residential supported accommodation program, is working with young people to get them ready to live independently. The young people have spent varying amounts of time in different stages of homelessness and many have a history of trauma, abuse, neglect, mental health issues (either theirs or their parents’), substance use (theirs or their parents’), etc. As we cater for young people of all genders between 15 and 18 years, there are different levels of emotional/mental maturity, communication skills, intellectual abilities etc. Having to meet new people, make friends and integrate into an unfamiliar living environment can be quite a daunting prospect for some young people.

01
November
Intimate Partner Violence and Homelessness: Young Women Lost in the Intersectionality
Rhianon Vichta and Ashleigh Husband, Brisbane Youth Service

While considerable attention has been paid to domestic violence (DV) as a primary cause of homelessness, there has been a historic lack of discourse and awareness across community service systems about the intersectionality of intimate partner violence and homelessness. The commonly used term ‘domestic violence’ defines intimate partner violence by its occurrence within a ‘home’ context, rather than situating it within interpersonal relationships, whereas the term ‘Intimate Partner Violence’ (IPV) is arguably more inclusive of violent experiences that occur outside of the domestic space.

November
2018
Digital Technology and Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing
Karleen Gwinner, Rhianon Vichta and Brian Collyer, QLD

Putting therapeutic tools for wellbeing directly into the hands of vulnerable young people, on their phones and devices, seems to make good sense. There are a great number of apps and websites which provide guidance and strategies for enhancing wellbeing, including mental health issues and other life challenges common to young people who are dealing with homelessness and other life crises. What we see, however, is that use of these remains limited amongst highly vulnerable and homeless young people.

February
2018
Sustaining Young Tenancies Evaluation Report
Dr Nicola Brackertz

In 2016-18 Brisbane Youth Service ran a pilot project which took an innovative and collaborative approach to helping young people in social housing sustain their tenancies. This evaluation report by the Australia Housing and Urban Research Institute found that the project was highly effective and delivered significant social wellbeing outcomes, as well as positive housing outcomes, and was good value for money.

November
2017
The Benefits of Good Governance
Helen Wood, Chair, Brisbane Youth Service Board

While many see ‘feeding the corporate agenda’ as an ineffective use of resources and a diversion of funding from service delivery, if done effectively, good governance, strategic leadership and an effective corporate business model increases an organisation’s ability to not only do more to assist the vulnerable, but also to deliver services in the most effective way.