The Costs of Youth Homelessness in Australia
28 April 2016 at 11:34 am
A Not for Profit funded landmark Australian study has found that early intervention in preventing homelessness could save more than $600 million per year in youth justice and health costs alone.
A world-first study funded by the Salvation Army, Mission Australia and Anglicare found that preventing young people from becoming homeless by strengthening and integrating school and youth services at a community level could save an estimated $626 million per year across the youth justice and health services systems.
The Costs of Youth Homelessness in Australia (CYHA) report showed that the cost to society, just from increased interactions with the health and criminal justice systems for young homeless people, exceeds the total annual cost of all homelessness services across Australia for people of all ages.
Conducted between 2011 and 2015 by leading researchers at Swinburne University in Victoria, Charles Sturt University NSW, and the University of Western Australia, the study involved a longitudinal survey and analysis of young homeless people’s use of services to measure the financial and social costs of youth homelessness in Australia.
“Drawing on welfare economics, sociology and finance theory, it is the first study of its kind anywhere in the world,” the report said.
It calls for a complete reform of youth homelessness policy in Australia, citing a number of innovative and successful “early intervention” programs.
In 2014-15, 41,780 young people aged 15-24 years accessed homelessness services across Australia.
“A significant number are forced to leave home because of family violence. Without early intervention, homelessness results in significant health risks, an increased risk of interacting with the criminal justice system and, for many who are early school leavers, the possibility of life-long disadvantage,” the report said.
The three principal researchers were Associate Professor David Mackenzie (Swinburne University), Professor Paul Flatau (University of Western Australia/Centre for Social Impact) and Professor Adam Steen (Charles Sturt University).