As of the last census in 2016, there were 116,427 people counted as homeless in Australia. Of these, 27,683 (24%) are aged between 12-24 years.
Youth homelessness is not about young people that simply don’t want to live at home. Two of the main causes of homelessness among young people aged between 12-24 years are family and domestic violence (abuse), and relationship or family breakdown.
According to Youth Homelessness Matters Day, the main reasons young people become homeless include:
- Interpersonal relationship problems including family violence and parent/adolescent conflict (45%);
- Accommodation issues such as being evicted or unable to find suitable accommodation (18%); and
- Financial reasons such as unable to pay rent or other financial difficulty (14%).
While children under the age of 12 years are more likely to be homeless in the company of a parent, young people aged 12-24 years are more likely to be homeless on their own.
Many people picture homelessness to be someone sleeping on the streets however, ‘couch surfing’ is the most common living arrangement for young people experiencing homelessness. Couch surfing refers to staying temporarily with friends/family, usually on a couch, and often results in young people repeatedly ‘bouncing’ from place to place to avoid overstaying their welcome. This type of transient and unstable accommodation makes attending school or holding down a job almost impossible.
“The absence of safe and secure accommodation, compounded in many cases by poor health, difficult financial circumstances and social isolation, has direct adverse effects on young people’s health and wellbeing”.
– The Cost of Youth Homelessness
Young people experiencing homelessness are also more likely to experience physical and mental health issues, and become increasingly more disconnected from their community the longer they remain homeless.
Without appropriate support a young person who is experiencing homelessness is likely to experience a lifetime of disadvantage, including a high propensity to be homeless in adulthood.
No one chooses this for themselves.
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