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Fr Chris Riley's youth back on the streets

The founder of the high profile Youth Off The Streets program has said he was forced to close his only Queensland facility after a two year unsuccessful battle for State Government funding to stay open.

Youth Off The Streets, which has cared for about 45,000 troubled youths, mainly in NSW, over the past 10 years, ran Connie's Place, south of Brisbane, for about three years.

The 10-bedroom property became the focus of media attention late last month when it was destroyed by fire. Fr Riley denies accusations that Youth Off The Streets workers and teenagers abandoned the house without informing the owners, and leaving employee records, furniture and electrical equipment.

Youth Off The Streets closed the facility at the end of last year because of financial constraints.

"We drained $2 million we'd raised in Sydney and NSW to keep that service afloat," Fr Riley said.

After promised corporate funding did not continue, he wrote to the State Government and Premier Peter Beattie warning them the Greenbank facility would close if government funding was not made available. He said the department used the facility for young people under its care but was not prepared to provide funds.

Connie's Place had accommodated up to five young people at a time, with its target group being males aged 12-17 who had legal issues, were homeless, or dealing with issues of aggression and/or drug and alcohol addiction.

Youth on the streets (Catholic Leader 8/2/04)

Youth Off The Streets
Charity begins at home - fire ends it (The Courier Mail 29/1/04)
There's no such thing as a bad kid (CathNews 21/2/03)
Saving street kids: Fr Chris honoured (Catholic Weekly 15/12/02)

6 Feb 2004