Sign Our Petition
Sign the petition
Petition to: The Hon. Amanda Rishworth MP, Minister for Social Services, and The Hon. Julie Collins MP, Minister for Homelessness
We need 15,000 signatures
Sign Our Petition
To develop a standalone national strategy to end child and youth homelessness
Why this petition matters
Homelessness continues to worsen for children and young people in Australia and there is no overarching strategy to tackle this impending crisis coming our way.
We need to ensure that our children and young people are safe, supported and given every opportunity to thrive. Ending child and youth homelessness will only be a reality if a clear, targeted and developmentally appropriate standalone Child and Youth Homelessness and Housing Strategy is created.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2016 Census data showed a 26% increase in homelessness over a 10-year period for 12 to 24-year-olds. This number is estimated to increase in the 2021 Census data following the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, and cost of living pressures. The most recent Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) data indicates that almost 40,000 children and young people aged 15 to 24 years presented alone to an SHS in 2021–22, representing the third largest client group. We are also seeing children as young as 12 years old coming into youth homelessness services on their own.
Children and young people experience multiple pathways into homelessness and the breadth of their issues and vulnerabilities are complex and distinct from those of adults. They also experience some of the most insidious, hidden, and dangerous forms of homelessness. Almost one-third of young people presenting alone to a homelessness service were couch surfing at the start of their support. Couch surfing leaves young people vulnerable to servitude, exploitation and abuse. Moreover, around a third of young people presenting alone have experienced domestic and family violence, and many are experiencing it in their own intimate relationships. They are turning up to youth homelessness services when they have no safe accommodation but are often being turned away because these services are at capacity.
We must act now to ensure there are safe and supported options for children and young people before they face dire and dangerous situations. We are calling on the Australian Government to ensure there is a standalone Child and Youth Homelessness and Housing Strategy.
Children and young people do not have the same coping strategies and resources generally attributed to adults and thus require a range of accommodation and support models depending on their age and development, independence and presenting issues. This includes specialist youth crisis accommodation, transitional accommodation, medium-term accommodation, specialist domestic, family, and sexual violence (DFSV) support and accommodation, family reunification services, Youth Foyers, youth social housing and affordable private rentals. Currently, there is a serious lack of options across their continuum of need.
Yfoundations has reviewed current state homelessness and housing strategies and identified that actions relating to children and young people were largely in the context of early intervention, Youth Foyers and supporting young people leaving out of home care (OOHC). While these are important commitments, they only scratch the surface to respond to the breadth of issues and vulnerabilities of children and young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness, particularly those facing it on their own.
The private and social housing market fails to help young people. Private rentals are unaffordable, inaccessible, and unattainable. Anglicare’s 2022 Rental Snapshot shows there was only ONE rental property in all of Australia for someone on the youth allowance payment. Young people also face barriers obtaining a social housing property due to long wait times and a lack of policy requiring housing providers to quarantine a percentage of their portfolio for this cohort. Combined with woefully low income support, young people are now facing homelessness and a future of trauma and vulnerability which we have the opportunity to change now if the Australian Government commits to a standalone National Child and Youth Homelessness and Housing Strategy.
It will take a whole of government and community approach to end child and youth homelessness in Australia. This is why we are calling on YOU to sign the petition. Demand that the Australian Government agrees to develop a National Child and Youth Homelessness and Housing Strategy today and be a part of the change.
For more detail on child and youth homelessness and the case for a national strategy, read our recent article in Parity magazine here.