Young People Often Hidden

Youth Homelessness Often Unseen.

With homelessness again thrust into the spotlight, suddenly this crisis appears to be greater than ever before.  

But what about homeless young people who usually don’t fit the stereotype of homelessness? Rarely seen sleeping on city streets, camped out in tents in a public park, or forced into refuges and shelters.

But what about homeless young people who usually don’t fit the stereotype of homelessness? Rarely seen sleeping on city streets, camped out in tents in a public park,   or forced into refuges and shelters.

Many young people are couch-surfing with friends or extended family, or cram into overcrowded accommodation. They may not be sleeping rough, but they’re no less homeless.

To mark Youth Homelessness Matters Day, on 5 April this year, Victorian youth homelessness organisations and peak bodies called on the Federal Government to commit to a national plan to tackle rising homelessness among young Australians.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows 38,402 Victorians under the age of 25 sought assistance from homelessness services last financial year, over 600 more than the previous year. Nearly 40% of Victorians who sought homelessness help were under the age of 25.

Youth homelessness Census figures are widely understood to be conservative, due to the high likelihood of young people living in hidden forms of homelessness such as couch-surfing and overcrowded dwellings. Often young people don’t identify they are living in a homeless situation.

Over 6,000 young Victorians who sought homelessness assistance last year were couch-surfing1

Early intervention strategies (like our Studio Program) are imperative in the fight against youth homelessness. As a community, we need to develop and fund effective preventative strategies that assist people in finding long-term housing.

The recent report released by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute; ‘The funding and delivery of programs to reduce homelessness: the case study evidence’ found that early intervention and postvention strategies have remained under-developed since the 2008 Australian Government’s White Paper, stating that; There is clear evidence that additional cost savings are associated with early intervention that reduces the flow of people into homelessness2

Housing affordability also plays a significant role in homelessness.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) housing affordability figures show that Australia is now the ninth most unaffordable country in the world, so if people cannot afford a place to live where are they to go?

We need a national plan to end youth homelessness which addresses the systemic issues underlying it, including family violence, access to affordable housing, youth justice, young people leaving out of home care and unemployment.

The Home Stretch campaign calls for the age at which young people are exited from out-of-home care to be raised from 18 to 21, is also imperative in the fight against youth homelessness. Currently, around 50% of care leavers will end up homeless, unemployed or involved with the law within the first 12 months of exiting care. In Victoria, 400 young people exit care every year on their 18th birthday.

A national plan to tackle youth homelessness must include measures which specifically target young people leaving care, who are some of our most vulnerable citizens.

As a community, it will always make sense to shine a light on the greater need for prevention.

Youth Homelessness Matters Day (YHMD) is a national campaign, held annually since 1990, aimed at raising awareness of youth homelessness among decision makers and the wider community.

 

1 council to homeless persons

2 Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute – ‘The funding and delivery of programs to reduce homelessness: the case study evidence

 

Return to Undercover News Autumn edition homepage