Youth homelessness can be overlooked, but there is a way out – as Finn’s story proves

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Of the more than 116,000 homeless people recorded in 2016, the homeless represented 7% and people staying in supported accommodation for the homeless 18%.

This means that three out of four homeless people live in less visible forms of homelessness, including staying temporarily with other households, living in boarding houses or other temporary accommodation, and living in severely overcrowded conditions. .

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says youth homelessness was likely underestimated in the census because it was statistically difficult to distinguish someone sofa surfing from a visitor, representing a problem of ” hidden homelessness”.

Jason Juretic, chief executive of Stepping Stone House youth shelter in Earlwood, mid-west, said homeless young people need safe accommodation, followed by mental health support and wraparound services to provide life skills training.

“We have young people coming in not knowing how to brush their teeth – we’re talking 15-year-olds – and girls not knowing what pads to use,” Juretic said.

Juretic said the government needed to step in to support struggling families much earlier and parent education to communicate the potentially serious consequences of kicking a child out of the home.

“School principals can tell you which of their six-year-olds are at risk of becoming homeless because of their disheveled appearance or signs of abuse,” Juretic said. “They spend years reporting them to child protective services.”

Lutherborrow said the policy response must consider early intervention to reduce family conflict and violence, and address emerging mental health issues.

“We’re good at reporting on the percentages of young people who have experienced domestic and family violence and end up in crisis or transitional housing…but it’s only beneficial if you do something with it. this information,” she said.

“We know the early indicators are disengagement from education, so what are we doing in this space because we can’t just keep putting money into housing – although we still have to, well sure.”

Finn, 21, grew up in Marrickville with a mentally ill parent, then experienced a family breakdown in his mid-teens.

He dropped out of school at 15, started using drugs and alcohol, and couchsurfed with friends and extended family on and off until he sought help from Youth Off the Streets.

Finn said he was housed with Wesley Mission and the coaching he received from the Youth Off the Streets program helped turn his life around.

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He volunteered with the Salvation Army and then got a job in the health sector, initially helping with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination. He moved into his own apartment on the private rental market.

“I really had a ‘live fast, die young’ mentality where I kind of wrote myself off,” Finn said.

“Now I really want to help people through my work in health care. I get up earlier, I sleep better, I have a reason to go out and do things…and I’m proud of my apartment and my life in general.

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