Youth Homelessness Matters Day – combating youth homelessness

Every night around 105,000 people are homeless and many are sleeping rough around Australia. Almost half (42 per cent) are under 25 years old, including almost 18,000 children under the age of 12. The Department of Human Services is often the first point of contact for many people facing homelessness so it is vital frontline staff can quickly identify individuals and families at risk and offer them information, resources and support. Youth and children at risk of homelessness are especially vulnerable. Of the 28,000 children homeless at some point in any given year, many have left home due to family violence, child abuse or family breakdown.

Young people experiencing homelessness are difficult to identify and less likely to be aware of the support services available. Often they are couch-surfing, staying with friends or relatives for short periods of time. The Department of Human Services – General Manager Hank Jongen, said specialist department staff link the most vulnerable with government and local community services. “Social Workers and Community Engagement Officers have regular contact with refuges, crisis accommodation and community centres to connect people who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, with local support services and Centrelink payments,” Mr Jongen said. “These staff build trust with people so they feel comfortable enough to talk about their situation and connect them to the most relevant support services. “Services may include youth refuges, medical services, education and employment support to help build the foundations for a strong, healthy and stable future.” Youth Homelessness Matters Day on Wednesday 18 April raises awareness of young people at risk of homelessness or who are experiencing homelessness.

Youth Homelessness Matters Day Aims:

  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.

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