More than 26,000 young Australians don’t have a place to call home. As Australia’s housing affordability crisis worsens, the cost of rent continues to climb and high youth unemployment makes finding work more and more difficult, young people are increasingly vulnerable to becoming homeless.
Young people experiencing homelessness are often hidden from view. The most common first experience of homelessness is couch surfing between friends’ houses. While this can provide temporary safety, the constant moving and instability makes successfully engaging with education or finding work almost impossible.
The causes of homelessness are varied, but poverty consistently ranks first among them. When poverty is combined with family violence of a lack of support, young people are much more likely to experience homelessness and long-term disadvantage.
While the human toll of youth homelessness is huge, there are also significant economic costs to the community. The Cost of Youth Homelessness in Australia Research Briefing (2016) reveals that the annual cost of health and justice services for young people experiencing homelessness is $626 million. This is in addition to the cost of providing support and accommodation services.
“For every young person who becomes homeless there is an average net expenditure of almost $15,000 per person per year on health and criminal justice services,” says lead researcher Associate Professor David Mackenzie, Swinburne University of Technology.
“If you become homeless you are more likely to become sick. You are more likely to use medical services. You are more likely to need help in hospital emergency rooms. You are more likely to be the victims of violence and assault.”
Getting involved with Youth Homelessness Matters Day and showing your support for young people experiencing homelessness is as easy as liking, sharing or creating a social media post with the hashtag #YHMD2017.
You can also sign the petition calling on political leaders to put youth homelessness on the national agenda, and commit to a plan to end youth homelessness.