Home teaches skills

A PARTNERSHIP between Illawarra Koori Men's Support Group and Southern Youth and Family Services has allowed a long awaited program aimed at assisting young Aboriginal men to find housing to get up and running.

Currently in its pilot stages, the Uncle Cedric Memorial Hostel Program aims to assist young Aboriginal men who are involved with the Illawarra Koori Men's Support Group by providing them with subsidised housing while teaching them valuable life skills.

Uncle Gerald Brown from the Illawarra Koori Men's Support Group said they had been trying to get the program up and running for about 11 years.

"Uncle Cedric, who has passed away, was really passionate about making sure the young people in the community have somewhere to live, so it's great to get this going," Uncle Gerald said.

"We had plans of an actual hostel, but we couldn't get the funding for that, but we've managed to secure an apartment for our first two residents of the program and we're really excited to see them move in."

Under the program the two residents, Ryan Carlson, 18, and Nathan Price, 18, will receive rental assistance and learn what is needed to live independently.

"They're responsible for paying the rent; we do subsidise them somewhat, but the majority comes from them and then we educate them about all the other things that come with being a tenant," SYFS chief executive Narelle Clay said.

"We've gone through the process of them signing the lease, we've taught them their responsibilities as tenants, but also their rights, as well as the skills they'll need to live independently, like how to budget.

"The aim is that after a year or two they'll be willing and able to move to a place of their own and then we'll bring the next lot in."

For Mr Carlson, being involved in the program has been an eye-opening experience.

"This is the first time I've been out of home and I've already learnt a lot just by going through the interview process and learning how to budget," he said.

"It is pretty exciting really, I like having a place that is mine, but we haven't got our first lot of bills yet, so that might change."

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