We know that young people are disproportionately impacted by the current housing crisis and face multiple barriers to securing any kind of accommodation. The result is rising youth homelessness. Currently there is no national strategy or adequate funding to address this situation for thousands of our young people. That’s why in April we raised funds to support three youth services in regional centres.
Last month the ABS released the 2021 Census data estimating homelessness in Australia. The national data gives a snapshot, a point-in-time picture, of those who are experiencing homelessness and living in marginal housing. It offers a helpful overview of who is experiencing homelessness and where they are staying – for example 56% are women and children and 2 in 5 people are in overcrowded dwellings. But in many ways, the Census only shows us the tip of the iceberg.
Family violence, relationship breakdowns and the soaring cost of living are placing more young people at risk of homelessness, while our housing crisis makes it increasingly difficult for homeless youth to find a safe and secure home. At-risk and vulnerable youth are increasingly falling through the gaps and being turned away from support services. This April we are supporting Youth Homelessness Maters Day (YHMD) and raising funds to support youth facing homelessness into safe and stable housing, breaking the cycle of disadvantage.
Young people make up just 14% of the workforce but bore 55% of the job losses during the 2021 lockdowns. The pandemic has compounded the problems of decades of high youth unemployment and underemployment, and the transition between education and employment, especially for those without a safe and secure place to call home. With the help of a generous philanthropic donor, we have been able to distribute $80,000 to 10 organisations responding to the needs of young people.
The past two years have been difficult for young people, and particularly for young people experiencing homelessness or severe disadvantage. Sectors of the economy which employ young people (retail, hospitality, arts, recreation and micro enterprises) were shut down, and education opportunities disrupted, compounding already high unemployment rates for certain cohorts including migrant and refugee communities. As the economy has opened up marginalised young people have been hard hit by rising rents and a return to below poverty line income supports, they need targeted opportunities.