Homelessness Leaving Young Australians Fearful of ‘Losing’ Future
1 August 2018 at 3:07 pm
One in six young Australians have experienced homelessness, new data shows, and a lack of resources and awareness is leaving affected young people fearful of “losing” their future.
Mission Australia’s latest youth survey of 15 to 19 year olds released on Wednesday found one in six (15.6 per cent) of the 21,812 respondents had experienced homelessness.
This includes 18-year-old Tasmanian Grace Morgan, who fled her family home at 16 to escape a domestic violence situation. With nowhere else to go, she had to couch surf at a friend’s house for three months.
Morgan told Pro Bono News the experience of homelessness left her fearful for her future.
“I definitely felt overwhelmed. I felt like I potentially was losing my future, like I didn’t have any control over it,” Morgan said.
New report: @MissionAust says 1 in 6 young people in #YouthSurvey2017 have experienced homelessness. Includes those living in refuges, transitional accom & who have couch surfed. Must invest in prevention, early intervention, social & affordable homes. https://t.co/L6YUPNm6rK
— Mission Australia (@MissionAust) July 31, 2018
Morgan now lives in a Hobart supported accommodation complex, but said improved awareness and resources around youth homelessness were vitally needed in the future.
“I would really love to see more homelessness awareness in the education system. After [my experience] I realised ‘my gosh, people my age can be homeless’. Why have I never been told any of this?,” she said.
“Why have I never been shown any resources or how I can fix that? I’ve never been taught any of this and it’s a very real possibility that happens to so many people.”
Mission Australia’s survey found for those who reported couch surfing like Morgan, the experience was often not isolated, with just one in five (19.8 per cent) indicating it happened on only one occasion.
About one in five couch surfers (19.5 per cent) also revealed they had first done so when they were under 12 years old.
New @MissionAust report says 1 in 6 young people in #YouthSurvey2017 have faced #homelessness. 1 in 5 of those who said they had couch surfed, said they had done so when they were less than 12 years old. Read more in the report & recommendations: https://t.co/o0hKRrwfDe pic.twitter.com/3C7qxYV0LH
— Mission Australia (@MissionAust) August 1, 2018
Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said this data offered a better understanding of young people facing homelessness and how it impacted them.
“It allows us to understand how their experiences differ from those young people who haven’t experienced homelessness, such as experiencing low self-esteem and happiness, and gives us some clues as to what supports are most needed,” Toomey said.
“Ultimately, it should serve as a stark reminder to us all that we must take action. To do nothing risks creating a generation of young people who carry the mental and physical scars of homelessness into their adult lives.”
As part of the Everybody’s Home campaign, Mission Australia is calling for a commitment to end homelessness by 2030.
The charity recommended action be taken at all levels of government to develop a national homelessness strategy, including priority measures to reduce youth homelessness.
“For many years, the community sector has put forward evidence-based solutions to end youth homelessness, but sadly we see from the recent census that numbers are still growing,” Toomey said.
“This is just not acceptable and we urgently call on all governments to make this a priority.”