Thursday, August 29th, 2013 - The University of Adelaide
"Until now there has been very little research conducted into this issue in Australia.  This is the first time a report has been published that looks at the scope of gender and sexuality as they relate to youth homelessness in two cities – Adelaide and Sydney."
 
Associate Professor Oakley says young people who are same sex attracted or transgender often experience homophobia, bullying and harassment.  "This can be compounded because of their homelessness," she says.
 
"Young people typically become homeless because of problems such as family breakdowns, mental health, substance abuse and lack of employment, which already puts them at increased risk.  To experience additional bullying, harassment or exploitation on top of that because of their gender or sexuality places this group in a very precarious situation."
 
Associate Professor Oakley says more coordinated and integrated support services are needed, as well as  training.  "The young homeless people we interviewed spoke very highly of service providers, but they also identified a range of problems, including a lack of understanding about their circumstances.  In the report, we call for core training in these issues for social workers and GPs, teachers and others who are at the forefront of dealing with youth homelessness," she says.
 
"There is also a lack of safe housing for these youth.  Some boarding houses are so unsafe that it can be better for young people to 'couch surf'.  What's really needed is improved accommodation – not just short or medium-term emergency accommodation – that will give young people time to transition out of homelessness."
 
This research has been funded by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.  The full report can be found at the Australian Homelessness Clearinghouse website.

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David Ellis, Media Officer

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Gender sex issues youth homeless Adelaide University

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