Youth homelessness is unseen

We often hear the reference to ‘street kids’ but in fact most young people experiencing homelessness are invisible to us. This generally means they are temporarily staying with friends, relatives, family and sometimes with complete strangers. These young people will often be sleeping on couches or on the floors of these people’s houses until they outstay their welcome and move on to the next place – hence the term 'couch surfing'.

Young people experiencing homelessness do not need rough sleeping initiatives alone. To prevent homelessness they need effective access to accommodation, family reconciliation services, community support and education programs.

Nearly 26,000 children and young people aged 12–24 years were experiencing homelessness on Census night 2016 across Australia. This comprises 9,955 children and young people aged 12–18 years; and 17,725 young adults aged 19–24 years.

In the 2016 Census, homeless youth (12–24 years) made up 32% of total homeless persons living in ‘severely’ crowded dwellings, 23% of persons in supported accommodation for the homeless, and 16% of persons staying temporarily in other households.

Nationally, nearly 41,700 15–24 year olds presented alone to youth homelessness services in 2020–21. In NSW, the main reasons why these young people needed help was due to:

17% Relationship and/or family breakdown
14% Housing crisis
11% Domestic and family violence
8% – Inadequate or inappropriate housing dwelling conditions.

Specific strategies to address child and youth homelessness are critical to the overall reduction of homelessness in Australia

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