Property Industry Foundation Leaders' Forum

(6pm 8 May 2012, Lord Mayor's Reception Room Sydney Town Hall)

Good evening, everyone. Welcome to Town Hall. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities who make up our City.

This is a chance, once again, to honour the work of the Property Industry Foundation on behalf of young Australians - and perhaps to encourage more people from the property and construction industries to join with you.

Certainly, there is no shortage of need. As your own website makes clear, homelessness among young people - Australia-wide and in our own state of NSW - remains an appalling problem.

On any one night, there are 11,000 young people who are homeless in NSW. That's a terrible statistic, one we all are shamed by.

The fact that 43 per cent of all homeless people in this state are aged under 24 highlights the problems of family breakdown and the urgent need for the work that the Property Industry Foundation is doing.

These young people should have a future, but without help, it's only too likely they will turn to alcohol or drugs, and crime to fund their habits. They need somewhere safe to sleep, some decent food, a chance to complete their education and to find positive goals for the future.

By raising funds, volunteering time, material and expertise to projects, through initiatives such as the Greg Paramor scholarship program, and other programs to develop work and life skills, your foundation is offering practical and compassionate help.

As individuals, we need to remember those appalling statistics about homelessness among the young, and as a community, we need to mobilise to reduce them.

We at the City were really pleased to partner with the foundation's Rebuild-a-Young-Life program to provide a council-owned property in Redfern which is being refurbished and will house eight young people at a time, supervised by Salvation Army house parents, while they are found jobs and supported into independent living.

It's a fantastic project, and I thank Brendan Crotty and all those who have worked so hard to bring it to fruition. Thank you all for your contribution to a more equitable and just city.

So once again, welcome, and enjoy this evening.