With this week marking Homelessness Week, AFG’s Chris Slater outlines why the mortgage broking industry is in prime position to help.
As part of Australia’s mortgage industry, we see every week the joy that our customers experience when they receive the green light for a mortgage, enabling them to buy their own home.
But it should not be forgotten at the other end of the spectrum. There are more than 100,000 Australians far less fortunate – for whom the basic human right of accommodation appears beyond their reach.
We all have a social responsibility to help reduce homelessness.
Mortgage brokers, who see first-hand the importance of a place to call home, are well positioned to give impacted people a hand up to help break the cycle and achieve adult independence.
There are about 116,000 homeless people in Australia on any given night – 28,000 of these aged under 25, according to the 2016 census – marking a 26 per cent increase from 2006.
In 2020–21, approximately 42,000 young people, aged 15–24, asked for help from a homelessness service in Australia.
With a squeeze on rental availability and soaring prices, this could worsen.
Homeless young people often don’t have the family support needed to access stable and secure accommodation, in turn making education and employment far more difficult. It would be hard to attend lectures and concentrate on study, if couch surfing or on the streets, often without the necessary technology or other resources.
A worthy organisation that is making a positive impact on many young, disadvantaged people’s lives is the Foyer Foundation. This national charitable organisation tackles youth homelessness by enabling young people without secure housing to develop and achieve educational and employment pathways.
By providing accessible and affordable accommodation in Youth Foyers – facilities based in 13 locations around Australia – the Foyer Foundation has supported more than 500 young Australians each year. And it has ambitious plans to grow, so it can help more individuals.
While these Foyers represent the bricks and mortar underpinning the support, the foundation offers far more than just a secure bed or welfare programme.
Foyers also provide the time, personalised attention, mentoring, coaching and access to opportunities needed to lead fulfilling, independent and productive lives.
AFG is proud to be principal partner of the Foyer Foundation. But there is plenty more that individual mortgage brokers can do in providing ongoing support and development to young Australians facing disadvantages.
A key way in which brokers can get involved – particularly for those based near Foyer locations – is through using their own career skills and business position to help young people being supported by the foundation.
Opportunities range from offering generic talks on budgeting and finance, to more specific one-on-one mentoring for individuals seeking a career in finance.
If there is an opportunity to offer work experience in your office, this could provide a valuable practical insight into the financial services sector for students that would not normally get this opportunity.
Those looking to offer financial support could chip into the Foyer Independence Fund. This fund provides life-changing gifts for students being supported by the foundation, such as laptops, tools or suitable clothing to attend job interviews or start new employment. Donations are tax-deductible.
Getting involved, either financially, or by offering time, is not just good for the students and community in which they live – it also means you are being a good corporate citizen, by showing concern for the public and having a positive impact on the community.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) isn’t a new practice, but it has gained momentum in recent years as for-profit companies increasingly look to address relevant social issues and strive to make a positive difference.
Though traditionally considered the domain of large international businesses, many small and medium businesses have for a long time been embracing CSR initiatives, and are reaping the benefits.
It is well documented that adopting good CSR practices offers direct benefits to the business, ranging from increased employee engagement to improved public image and customer loyalty.
And by breaking the cycle of disadvantage and creating more prosperous younger Australians, this will contribute to a stronger economy – one in which all industries, including mortgage broking, stand to gain.
Chris Slater is the head of sales & distribution at Australian Finance Group (AFG).
He participated in the 2022 CEO Vinnies Sleepout at CBUS Stadium on the Gold Coast, raising $16,906 to help change the lives of Australians experiencing homelessness.
Together with AFG broker Andrew Best and Living Home Loans, more than $21,000 was raised by the team.