With 60% of Australia’s homeless population under the age of 35, the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council is marking Youth Homelessness Matters Day (April 15) by calling for radical action by the federal government to address the causes and the consequences of youth homelessness, specifically through social housing, employment support, education and justice reinvestment.
Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon said: “Of the 105, 237 experiencing homelessness in Australia, more than 17,000 are children under the age of 12. A further 10,900 young people aged 12 to 18 are experiencing homelessness; most are estranged from their families.
“Young people experiencing homelessness show enormous courage in the face of adversity; they are facing a situation that no-one, and especially not a young person lacking resources and experience, should have to. We know that domestic violence and out-of-home care are the major drivers of youth homelessness. We also know that specific groups of young people are particularly at risk of homelessness, including LGBTI young people being at greatly increased risk. We need much greater resourcing of early intervention programs, such as specialist housing services, programs specialising in targeted support for early school leavers, young people experiencing unemployment and young people who find themselves face to face with the criminal justice system,” Dr Falzon said.
St Vincent de Paul Society National President, Graham West, said the charity’s 60,000 members and volunteers across Australia encounter the devastating consequences of youth homelessness and stand in solidarity with young people.
“We see young people approach our soup vans operating every night in major capital cities, and during the day we provide many of these children, adolescents, and young adults with emergency relief and specialist services. What our members also provide is a real sense of community, friendship, and the knowledge that there are people who genuinely care,” Mr West said.
“Whilst we will always be there for these brave young people it is a future built on fairness that they long for. During YHMD we have the opportunity to break stereotypes and engage with government and business to ensure that young people have greater access to support and services.”
- People experiencing homelessness are more likely to suffer from physical and mental health issues than the rest of the population.
- The experience of homelessness brings with it a heightened vulnerability to violence.
- Unemployment, family breakdown and abuse are additional factors that lead to homelessness.
- Each year the homeless service system provides almost three million nights of accommodation.