Over half a million has been raised for LGBTI homelessness in Perth

Perth Inner City Youth Services (PICYS) have announced their fundraiser to raise funds for LGBTIQ homelessness has dramatically exceeded expectations and raised over $205,000 after Woodside Energy threw their support behind the program, and the state government added another $300,000.

The campaign to raise funds for PICYS was organised by former Pride WA President, journalist Paul van Lieshout Hunt. Appearing on radio station 6PR’s Perth Tonight With Chris Ilsley, van Lieshout Hunt shared that the success of the program was largely due to the support of Ilsley and listeners of his nighttime talkback program.

“We really did some good news this year and we really found it.” van Lieshout Hunt said.

“We didn’t just bring in ten grand, we also brought in a corporate sponsor, largely thanks to your listenership, your support, and the community’s support in getting behind us with this.”

“This Chris is largely due to yourself and to this radio station and the people of Perth who chipped in, hearing this message almost brings me to tears in some sense because there has been so much rallying of support behind this issue of LGBTI young people.”

The campaign has hoped to raise $10,000 via a GoFundMe campaign, tonight the organisers revealed they had attracted $5,000 through the site, but energy company Woodside had pledged $200,000 to the organisation after hearing about the appeal.

Prior to being promoted on 6PR a few months ago the campaign had only attracted around $1,000, but after 6PR showed their support for the issue of homeless youth PICYS now has over half a million dollars to really tackle the issue.

PICYS Executive Officer Andrew Hall said the additional funding would allow the organisation to tackle homelessness with a more ambitious plan than originally envisaged, and noted that around 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTI.

“Perth Inner City Youth Service…has an intentional focus where we focus on LGBTI young people, often because they haven’t got a supportive family at that point in time with the homelessness issue. One in every two young people that we work with identify as LGBTI, and one in every three with a trans or gender diversity aspect to that.” Hall said.

Hall shared that working with the LGBTI community has been central to their work since they were first founded. The PICYS leader said that within the organisation’s first year of operation it was knocked back from a commonwealth funding scheme because they employed a gay employee.

“The Commonwealth government decided that they wouldn’t fund that program because they had a gay employee. One of two youth workers who was helping kids get jobs back in 1983, and our agency which was incorporated in 1982 came out and said ‘that’s wrong’ and was a very strong advocate. Ever since then we’ve been world renowned for working with the LGBTI community. In 2006 we were a finalist in the Community Service Industry Awards for our LGBTI work, and in 2017 we were a finalist in the Youth Awards, and last year in 2019 (Health Minister) Roger Cook gave us the award for Mental Health Diversity.” Hall said.

Hall cited the landmark Transpathways research conducted by Perth’s Telethon’s Kids Institute that showed that 22 per cent of transgender and gender diverse youth had experienced homelessness and lacked a supportive family.

“They have 11.9 times the suicide ideation rates of other trans kids, not just other kids, other trans kids.” Hall said, highlighting the combination of dealing with gender incongruence and experiencing homelessness serious effected people’s mental health.

For Paul van Lieshout Hunt, hearing of a young man who kicked out of his home after his father discovered a dating app on his phone, lead him to set up the fundraising program and he is overjoyed that the final result will allow PICYS to achieve much more than originally anticipated. Hall shared that there had been an immediate increase in service delivery.

“We used to support up to 12 people young people in houses, in leases, and now currently right now with other partnerships that this money has enabled, we are currently in August housing 28 young people.” Hall said, noting that around 14 of those in their program identify as LGBTI.

OIP Staff, 

Update: 18-08-20 This article was updated to clarify the position of Pride WA regarding the fundraiser, while it was endorsed by the organsiation ,they were not involved in organising it. 

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