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New app to tackle youth homelessness in Gympie

Young people at risk or experiencing homelessness in the Gympie region will soon be able to access services and support with the help of a new mobile phone app.

The ‘HomeTown Buddy’ app has been developed by USC in collaboration with Community Action Inc and the Gympie Youth Network, with advice and support from the Sunshine Coast Primary Health Network and Gympie Regional Council.

It will be launched tomorrow (Wednesday 3 November) at 11am at USC’s Gympie campus.

Community Action Youth Service Manager Murray Benton said the app would help address a critical community need.

“With homelessness on the rise and increasing social disadvantage presenting for young people in the region, we hope that this app will help youth and other residents easily find information and support when they require it most,” he said.

Mr Benton said Community Action Inc would manage the app and would consult with local businesses to provide free Wi-Fi access to users.

“We want to ensure young people have access to the full functionality of the app regardless of the data inclusions in their phone plan and their ability to afford data access.” 

USC Gympie Campus Coordinator and Project Coordinator Angeline Medland said the app provided important information to help young people find places to stay and trusted people to speak with.

“It also provides advice on how to access food and medical attention, support with rental issues and employment, and local activities and events,” she said.

“The app is available for free download from Google Play and the Apple Store and includes a comprehensive list of local resources and links to relevant websites, self-care tips and strategies.” 

Ms Medland said the app had been developed through USC’s Centre for International Development, Social Entrepreneurship and Leadership (CIDSEL), which works with policy makers, governments, investors, small business owners and entrepreneurs to foster creativity and innovation and create positive social change.

Mr Benton, who is also Chairman of the Gympie Youth Network Youth Service, said the project was a perfect example of what a community could achieve by working proactively and collaboratively towards a mutual goal.

“This project has been three years in the making and is a real testament to the passion this network has to deliver key projects to collaboratively improve social outcomes for youth,” he said.

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