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 group of students from across the University, recently gathered in Gladstone 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?’ 

Organised by CQUniversity Social Innovation Program Manager, Ashley Clarke, 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. 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.” 

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. Ms Tribe said each of the student-generated concepts far exceeded her expectations as they tapped into the needs of current Roseberry House clients to generate innovative and dignified shelter ideas that allow for sustainable tenancies and adaptability.  

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