30 people from the Gold Coast's property industry put their hands up to take part in 'StreetSLEEP' – an overnight sleepout hosted by the Property Industry Foundation held to support young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The inaugural event on the Gold Coast aimed to raise funds to employ a Family Therapist to join Mission Australia's local Reconnect team.

Reconnect exists to assist young people aged 12 to 18 and their families who are at risk of, or experiencing homelessness. The team also provide support to young people who are disengaging from family, school and their community.

The Reconnect Gold Coast team, Darren Stockman and Cassandra Lomas, were present on the night and spoke about the work they are doing to support young people. They were able to provide the group with firsthand knowledge of the challenges faced by young people.

"Often young people experience extreme mental health issues and high-risk behaviours. When there are limited housing options available, this can be extremely problematic for young people," Darren explained.

Katie Leavey, Southeast QLD Area Manager and Phil Flint, Acting QLD State Director, also spoke about the work that Mission Australia is doing in general to reduce homelessness.

The night was sponsored by AMP Capital, who generously provided the event venue at a local shopping centre. Eight property companies were involved, including Century 21 and the City of Gold Coast Council, and collectively, they raised more than $9,000 which will go towards employing a Family Therapist.

"Both young people and their parents or caregivers face barriers to accessing specialised services. To meet the needs of all of our clients, we would like a Family Therapist to come on board. This substantial donation will go a long way in making this possible," Darren said.

Darren also expressed the positive impact Reconnect has on young people and their families, sharing the story of an 18 year-old that he worked with.

"When we came into contact with James*, he was sleeping rough with no personal belongings. After two weeks of engagement with Reconnect, we managed to secure crisis shelter for a month. With a roof over his head, James managed to re-sit and complete year 12 through an alternative education program. We then successfully found medium term accommodation for James, where he could safety live for a year. After three months, James got in contact, expressing his thanks for our assistance," Darren shared.

Many participants on the night said they felt confronted and humbled by the stories they heard. They also said that sleeping rough was an 'eye-opening experience', quite literally - as many struggled to sleep. It's hoped that the success of the sleep-out will mean it's the first of many to come.

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