STREAT: Youth homelessness and disadvantage

This renowned local enterprise has dedicated over a decade to stopping youth homelessness through social ventures that improve employment rates, housing situations, and most importantly, a sense of self.

Every night in Australia, over 105,000 people are homeless. 26,000 of these are between the ages of 12 to 24. The vast majority caught up by youth homelessness will leave school before Year 10, and 57% maintain a state of long-term unemployment. The average life expectancy of one of these thousands of homeless Australians is 47 years, compared to the typical average of 82.

These are just a few of the stark statistics that STREAT provides as their reason for existing. From their very beginning in 2009, STREAT’s vision has remained the same: help reduce these bleak numbers, one young person at a time.

Streat. Combatting youth homelessness in Melbourne
STREAT Cromwell St premises

Rebecca Scott and Kate Barrelle conceptualised STREAT over a decade ago, with a design model in mind that could help people both in and outside Melbourne. By 2010, they had started a business from their passion. What originated as a single food cart in Federation Square has now become an internationally-recognised initiative. From helping 15 young people in 2010, by 2017 they were able to help 346 improve their sense of belonging, their employment opportunities and skill sets and to solidify their housing situations.

Youth homelessness: How can we help?

Prior to the pandemic outbreak, STREAT was proudly 70% self-funded through its businesses, since the need for state-wide lockdowns, this has dropped to 52% self-funded.

There are plenty of ways for us to help them with their mission. They have five cafes across the city, from Collingwood and Parkville to the CBD. They also operate corporate cafes, where young people are given the opportunity to train within these businesses. The cafes offer a range of coffee, meals, desserts and drinks, so stop by for a delicious feed and support a great cause.

Streat cafe’s. Combatting youth homelessness in Melbourne

STREAT isn’t just an incredible cause but is a thriving business. In addition to the café’s, they operate a bakery, offer catering services, youth programs, platforms for young people to tell their own stories, training facilities and volunteer services. The 60 members of STREAT are well-qualified to offer such a range of services, with the team including chefs, baristas, roasters, bakers and a diverse support team. STREAT’S hamper business has plenty of fresh, local options for friendly gatherings or work events, as well as a ‘Green Hamper’ in the works for upcoming release.

STREAT’S innovative training pathways are part of the wider Moving Feast project, a collective of social enterprises working together to create a fair, regenerative and connected food system, including STREAT, Melbourne Farmers Markets, Cultivating Community, Collingwood Children’s Farm, CERES, and Open Food Network.

Sustainable Results

STREAT’s mission is, as its core, about improving the good we can do for the planet and its residents. Since their beginning, they’ve assisted over 3100 young people with certification programs, work experience and finding pathways to long-term employment. They are also a registered Australian charity, and with every dollar you donate, they have pledged to donate $3 to supporting young people.

An important part of their mission is helping the environment. The company runs on renewable power, maintains 18 worm farms (over 180,000 worm workers) to turn their organic waste and coffee grounds into nutrient-rich vermicompost and fertiliser, and every year they stop over 100,000 coffee cups from contributing to landfill by endorsing reusable cups. STREAT’s Cromwell site diverts 100% of their organic waste from landfill, estimated at more than 48 tonnes of CO2 in FY19-20.

Streat. Sustainably combatting youth homelessness in Melbourne
STREAT – composting and worm farms

Reground, a local waste reduction business, collects STREAT’s coffee grounds and uses them for compost at the Melbourne Zoo, which in turn helps to keep the Zoo’s gardens and enclosures lush and healthy. Since April 2017, this initiative alone has prevented more than 27,000 kgs of coffee grounds going into landfill, and 52 tonnes of greenhouse gases from being produced.

Their next sustainability venture aims at starting an urban farm for young homeless people which will incorporate STREAT’s first Horticulture program. This program will see its trainees partaking in everything from planting seeds and gardening to greening other businesses.


Cromwell café (& head office): 66 Cromwell Street, Collingwood
Parkville Café: 900 Park Street, Parkville
Bourke St RACV Café: 485 Bourke St, Melbourne
Melbourne Central café: Melbourne Central Shopping Centre, GF
RMIT café: Garden Building on Bowen St


***All images provided by STREAT

Explore other sustainable initiatives in Melbourne here.

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