More than 26, 000 young Australians do not have a home. In most instances, they do not have a home because they are escaping conflict and violence. They find it almost impossible to find a home because of the housing affordability crisis in Australia.
The vast majority of young people experiencing homelessness are hidden from view in refuges, couch surfing situations and sleeping in cars with their family, but their experience is very real.
Youth homelessness is a national disgrace. To end youth homelessness we need a national plan.
Pitifully low Youth Allowance payments, rising rents inflated by the housing crisis, insufficient supports for young people leaving state care and a lack of employment pathways for vulnerable youth have all combined to create a perfect storm in which young people are increasingly likely to fall into homelessness.
About YHMD and Youth Homelessness
Youth Homelessness Matters Day (YHMD) has been an exciting campaign since its inception in 1990. Started by a group of social advocates who believed that too many young people were moving out of home with no where to go, the day has since grown into a national celebration of young people’s resilience.
For us, Youth Homelessness Matters Day started because of young people like Trent. Trent has Obsessive Compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety issues. As he did not want to drag his two year old brother, nine year old sister and grandmother down, he decided to run away. At first, Trent did not want to ask for help because he was told that refuges were not great. When he finally decided to call a service, they did not have any bed for him. A week later he was given a spot and he loved the place: ‘even nicer than most colleges and everyone is so nice’ he said! Trent could get support for his mental health issues and fells must better now.
Youth homelessness is something that affects most people, whether it’s a parent who lets their child’s friend crash on the couch for a couple nights or an Aunty who hears of her niece being kicked out. Yet many people don’t know the impact this issue has on our young people or what to do to help.
We do this work for people like Trent, who was one of the lucky ones. We see this as a good story. For many others, the school counselor doesn’t know what to do or doesn’t care. Most of the time there aren’t any vacancies at youth accommodation services and young people have to move far from their childhood town. For others, they hear rumours about ‘youth refuges’ and are scared that they will just end up becoming a good-for-nothing bad kid.
This campaign aims to address these problems. We’ll probably never live in a society where no young person has to leave home early (although that would be nice) and we are aware of the fact that family breakdown is sometimes inevitable. However, young people should not have to face homelessness and discrimination when their home life doesn’t work out. They shouldn’t be faced with a life of disadvantage just because they were dealt a bad hand and born to imperfect parents or a broken family.
We look forward to creating brighter futures for the young people who have faced homelessness and showing them that they have the power and opportunity to become whatever they put their mind to.
#1 Ensure that young people have greater access to support and services
Young people at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness need access to supportive and well-resourced services which work with them in establishing foundations on which they can build a stable future. These services can be tasked with the provision of ensuring health and wellbeing, safety and stability, re-engagement and participation with education and employment services.
#2 Break Stereotypes
The aim of this campaign is to break the common stereotypes that are associated with youth homelessness, and the young people who experience disadvantage.
The stigma attached to homelessness often prevents many young people from seeking help. As such, Youth Homelessness Matters Day aims to raise awareness that youth homelessness stereotypes are not accurate, and instead there needs to be more focus on recognising the signs of homelessness so there can be less shame and more productive help available.
#3 Engage with Government and Business
The campaign also aims to engage government and corporate sectors to resource specialist youth homelessness services, also known as youth refuges or shelters, which provide young people with the help they need in order to get back on their feet.
Finding Help If You Are Homeless
If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness, or is at risk of experiencing homelessness you can find details on how to seek help here.