Baking a difference


STREAT is a Melbourne-based social enterprise that provides homeless and high-risk youth aged 16-25 with a supported pathway to careers in the hospitality industry and independent living. Our goal is to help these young people feel they belong and to thrive in life.

Starting with two small food carts in 2010, STREAT now operates seven hospitality businesses, including cafes, a bakery, coffee roastery, catering kitchen and functions venue at our new flagship site in Cromwell St, Collingwood. Here trainees gain genuine work experience and mentoring from our professional hospitality staff, while studying for accredited certificates in hospitality. These businesses also help fund the Youth Program team, who provide integrated, tailored, wrap-around support.

The importance of employability skills, job opportunities and stable housing is clear, but from listening to our young people we’ve also learnt how much they value their sense of belonging at STREAT. In their most recent program review, our young people rated their sense of belonging at 98 per cent.

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STREAT sees itself as the glue that holds things together when a young person can’t.

STREAT is currently 70 per cent self-funded through its business revenue, and aims for this to be 100 per cent by 2020. We’ve now trained and supported more than 800 amazing young people. Our 2022 goal is to help one young person every mealtime – that’s 1095 each year.

To achieve this, we work closely with the social services and youth sector, receiving referrals from more than 90 agencies across Melbourne. We deliver transformational youth work through equal doses of reliability, boundaries, kindness and fun. We are not a treatment or clinical program per se, but we do support young people with multiple, complex and high needs.

STREAT sees itself as the glue that holds things together when a young person can’t.

The Board, along with our primary benefactor, Mr Geoff Harris, have decided to expand STREAT into areas with serious need in Victoria. We have commissioned Social Ventures Australia to map the level of youth homelessness and disadvantage across the state.

The three main population groups at high risk of unemployment and homelessness are young migrants, those emerging from out-of-home care, and those engaged in criminal behaviour.

Young people facing these three challenges are over-represented in regions like Greater Dandenong and Brimbank. Responding to this need, STREAT has begun research and planning to set up operations near Dandenong.

As an integrated social enterprise, STREAT is dedicated to working closely with the rest of the sector to bring about a positive future for marginalised young people in Victoria.

Dr Kate Barrelle is co-founder and Chief Impact Officer at STREAT
Photos: Alice Hutchison

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Allie’s story

Allie is a young woman, who with the support of police, a women’s shelter and Frontyard Youth Services, was able to leave a violent relationship, and was referred to STREAT.

Almost two thirds of STREAT’s young people are homeless, or are at risk of homelessness. Allie was eligible for transitional housing because she was engaged in STREAT’s 17-week Main Course program of work experience, TAFE training, group life skills sessions, and individual personal support.

As a result of childhood abuse, Allie had significant mental health and emotional issues, as do more than 80 per cent of STREAT’s young people.

Kirsten from STREAT’s Youth Program Team provided holistic and flexible day-to-day support, while helping Allie attend her other appointments. Allie slowly became more confident, made friends in the program, and quietly aced her work experience shifts. Allie and STREAT were so proud when she landed her first job as a waitress. Now she is self-sufficient and feels in control of her own life.

As well as the critical importance of skills, experience and employment, Allie identified friendships and a sense of belonging at STREAT as key to her ability to move forward. She said the hospitality mentors “made things fun and educational even when there was lots to be done”, and that the Youth Program Team were “good listeners”.

Allie graduated from STREAT in 2014 and now works in hospitality while studying to pursue her dream of becoming an aged care nurse.



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