While no youth wants to find themselves homeless, circumstances beyond their control can turn their lives upside down. Young people are particularly vulnerable as they have limited resources and are less likely to ask for help beyond a friend or family member. The lack of privacy and personal space at a friend or relative’s house also makes it difficult for them to study, therefore affecting their education, with some dropping out of school.
The Key Risk Factors for a Youth Becoming Homeless
- Family and domestic violence or parental drug and alcohol abuse
- Parental neglect
- Being kicked out of home with no job or possessions
- Death of a family member or carer
- Family breakdown due to divorce or a step-parent situation
- Leaving a parental home without stable employment
- Mental illness
- Alcohol and other drug issues
- Housing crisis
- Job loss resulting in not being able to pay the rent and bills
A domestic violence situation, in particular, makes them think they would be better off on the street. The trauma of being homeless causes increased stress and anxiety and potentially exposes young people to violence and sexual exploitation.
Young people who have lost their job and can no longer pay rent and living expenses may have nowhere else to go and end up sleeping on the street or in their cars. The stress of their situation significantly increases or intensifies mental health issues.
In 2022, 18,800 young people aged between 15 and 19 across Australia participated in Mission Australia’s Youth Survey. Among other things, the survey revealed that:
- 10.4% were worried about having a safe place to stay
- 8.4% spent time away from home because they felt they couldn’t go back
- 2.1% had no fixed address or lived in a refuge or transitional accommodation
- 6.4% said they or their family sought financial help from family, friends or charity
- 5.9% said they or their family could not pay bills or car expenses
- 18.3% identified as living with a mental health condition.
Preventing homelessness is the best option. Some strategies include introducing universal screening at schools to identify youth who are at risk. Another is to engage specialised staff to provide mental health and other support to help stabilise families. Mission Australia provides a number of these services right across Australia. They provide housing and accommodation, counselling, family support, and education.
Safe Communities Are Everyone’s Business
Families do have challenges. If people reach out to them and direct them to support services that will help them with the issues they are facing, it prevents bigger problems down the track, such as youth homelessness.
Safe and thriving communities are built when everyone makes an effort to solve the problems people are facing. Misbehaving youths in the community are usually hurting, possibly through a domestic violence situation which may have led to substance abuse and making poor choices. If you see someone who is hurting and lost, offer them some hope by directing them to community services, such as Mission Australia.
Where to Get Help
Early intervention is paramount to avoiding major setbacks. A young person’s education, employment opportunities and even their whole future are in jeopardy if they end up homeless.
Mission Australia’s RESET Program is run in the more remote areas of southwest Sydney, where access to support is limited. The program assists young people between the ages of 18 to 25 who are in emergency or transitional accommodation to get into private rental accommodation. They could be youth who are couch surfing, or rough sleeping on the street, or in public transport. The RESET Program is an early intervention program that identifies young people at risk before they are entrenched in homelessness. Click here for more information.
Triple Care Farm Rehabilitation Program
Mission Australia’s Triple Care Farm Rehabilitation Program is a residential alcohol and drug rehabilitation program to help young people aged between 16 to 24 manage their withdrawal and recovery from alcohol and other drugs. The program also helps them overcome abuse, trauma, homelessness, and unemployment, build their self-esteem and learn new skills.
The rehabilitation program runs for three months in a rural environment where they are able to relax and begin the healing process while participating in the programs that will help them get back on track. The Triple Care program is a unique program throughout Australia. For more information on the Triple Care Farm Rehabilitation Program, click the link and watch the clip below.
For more information on the services for youth provided by Mission Australia, you can visit their website at: www.missionaustralia.com.au.
For more information about the Youth Survey, click here:
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