On any given night 26,238 Australians aged 12-24 are homeless. These young people are more likely to leave school, experience long term unemployment, and are more likely to experience persistent homelessness in adulthood.
The main risk factors that lead to homelessness among young people include: family violence, child abuse, parents with alcohol or drug issues, and mental illness. That is to say – young people who experience homelessness have the odds stacked against them from the outset.
For those subsisting on Youth Allowance, the average rental will cost a young person 63% of their income. To put that in context, a person is generally considered to be in housing stress if they pay 30% of their income or more on housing. Entering the private rental market with no rental history, no employment history, and insufficient income support make the odds of getting out of the homelessness trap seem insurmountable. That makes getting educated, and getting into secure employment a high priority.
The Barwon South West Homelessness Network are in the business of making a dent in these struggles – with supported housing, and assistance from case managers. What they lack, is adequate funding to support young people to get back to school, or find secure employment. When the statistics tell us this is one of the greatest barriers young homeless people face, we think more can be done.
“Across the network we constantly face the issue of not being able to provide support for things like getting some new clothes, a haircut, or a taxi voucher to get to an interview. There are funding streams available – but they are not able to meet that critical response. Going through the other funding streams cannot get this done.” -Andrew Edger, Barwon South West Homelessness Network Coordinator.
Andrew is also a key resource person for StreetSmart, sitting on our Victorian Grants Committee providing expert advice on the needs of frontline services. StreetSmart CEO, Adam Robinson and Andrew have been brainstorming ways to practically assist young people to move beyond homelessness. What is missing is being able to respond quickly to what young people need. It could be preparing for an interview across town in 3 days time, or new uniforms for an apprenticeship.
“With a patchwork landscape of funding, and the specialised needs in the homelessness sector – StreetSmart is here to step in and fill the funding gaps. In collaboration with the The Barwon South West Homelessness Network, we are seed-funding a coalition of specialist youth homeless services to set up the “Now I am Ready” fund, enabling services to meet the cost of work and education support. That could be a TAFE course, a new uniform, or a semester of prescribed textbooks. Ideas like this need community backing so that young people are supported at the right time and in the right way.” – StreetSmart CEO, Adam Robinson.
With many homeless young people lacking family support or a social safety net, it is up to us – the community – to support them when they need it most. And Andrew has a whole of community firmly in mind.
“We want to develop a whole of community response. Getting local business involved – whether it’s free haircuts, discounts on textbooks, or supporting us through matching what the public are giving to get this idea off off the ground.”
We think instead of missing out on important life opportunities, Australia’s young people deserve a leg-up. We 110% support innovative solutions taking action against homelessness, and with the help of our StreetFunders, we have set ourselves a $10k target for the “Now I am Ready” fund, to help over 50 young people.
If you want help seed fund this new project and give young people the support they need you can. Individuals can donate here, and businesses can donate and help us match funds raised from the public by getting in touch with our CEO Adam Robinson.