Support and Stability Break Youth Homelessness Cycle
31 March 2010 at 11:10 am
Australia’s only long-term study into youth homelessness has revealed that inter-dependence – not independence – is the key to breaking the homelessness cycle for the more than 30,000 Australians aged between 12 and 24 who couch-surf, sleep rough or stay in emergency accommodation every night.
The Moving Out, Moving On study shows that higher than expected numbers of young people successfully moved out of homelessness when supported by family, friends or specialist
Co-author of the study, Dr Shelley Mallett, says the report confirms that while homelessness has a significant impact on a young person’s ability to finish their education, find a job and earn an income, given the right support they were often able to get their lives back on track.
Dr Mallett says that not surprisingly, support and stability break the homelessness cycle for young people. While some will be able to get this support from family, for others this must come from agencies.
Launching Moving Out, Moving On at the Melbourne Town Hall, Professor Brian Burdekin AO, Patron of the Lighthouse Foundation and former Human Rights Commissioner, said the Federal Government had allocated substantial funding to address the issues involved in homelessness.
However, he says there are clearly problems in the way this funding is being disbursed in some States.
Prof Burdekin says if Australia is to minimise the enormous harm homelessness causes young people it must invest in the support and the housing needed to help them stabilise, reconnect with family where possible and build the relationships needed to lead productive and happy lives.
Council to Homeless Persons CEO, Michelle Burrell, says the findings defy traditional thinking on youth homelessness, which focuses on “pathologising young people and treating them as a lost cause”.
She says this study confirms the need for solid investment in housing and support if we are to break the cycle of youth into adult homelessness. It also confirms that the best way to end youth homelessness is to stop it happening in the first place.
Facts about youth homelessness:
- An estimated 6,408 young Victorians between the ages of 12 and 24 have nowhere to call home. Many ‘couch surf’ with friends.
- Some sleep rough in squats, cars or public spaces. Others find emergency accommodation in refuges, Government-funded transitional housing, private rooming houses, backpacker hostels or motels.
- Only about half of homeless youths stay within the Victorian school system.
- Homelessness is not a willing choice. Most homeless young people are forced to leave home due to family breakdown or violence, abuse and/or neglect, family homelessness, poverty, mental health issues, or alcohol and other drug issues.
For more information go to: www.chp.org.au