Latest data shows youth homelessness crisis in NSW is growing at an epidemic rate.
Today’s Census data reveals the rate of youth homelessness in NSW has increased by an alarming 92% since 2011, with 9,048 young people aged 12-24 recorded as homeless on Census night.
Furthermore, the rate of young people (aged 12-24 years) in the homeless population of NSW increased to 75.3%, and compared to the rest of the nation, NSW has the highest percentage of people sleeping rough (on the street).
Zoë Robinson, CEO of Yfoundations, the peak body for youth homelessness in NSW says this is an epidemic: “The data is clear, we’re dealing with a significant and escalating problem. These figures represent a tragic state-wide crisis, requiring urgent attention and change. It is every human’s responsibility to play a role in caring for our young people. We cannot say we are truly protecting young people in our society when so many are without one of our most basic needs - a home.
“Young people who are homeless in NSW are more than shocking statistics. They are the forgotten and largely invisible young Australians who are trapped in homelessness. This data suggests that not only is there a huge problem today, but that it will be even more serious in the future if we do no start helping young people today.
“Reducing youth homelessness is rightfully one of the 12 Premier’s Priorities announced by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. However, with the upward trend of this tragedy, youth homelessness needs to be given appropriate attention and resource if even the smallest reduction is to be achieved. Simply moving those who are experiencing homelessness to longer term accommodation is not a solution nor can it be a measurement of success. We cannot ignore or move this issue, but together we can solve it.”
18 April 2018 is Youth Homelessness Matters Day, and Yfoundations, the peak body for youth homelessness in NSW, will be calling for increased funding for the programs that have proven to be successful, such as early intervention and specialist services and solutions, pathways to affordable housing for young people, as well as encouraging the government to work more closely with both young people and the sector to understand the roots of youth homelessness.
“We also urge every person to recognise that this is a whole of community issue. A 12 year-old that does not have a home could be your niece, or the little boy who used to live next door.
“Many young people who are homeless are not only without a home, they are without a fundamental right that every child should have in life: a safe, stable and caring family. Some struggle with mental health issues. And most – through no choice of their own – have experienced extraordinary circumstances that have left them in this position. Once they’re down, they slip through the cracks and it is incredibly difficult for them to find a way out,” explained Robinson.
With flow on effects including extended homelessness, mental health challenges, severe financial hardship, loss of education opportunities, health impacts, negative stigma, and very limited pathways to succeed, youth experiencing homelessness face significantly more challenges than not only having their own bed.
NSW young people aged 12-24 who are experiencing homelessness includes sleeping rough (on the street, in tents or in improvised dwellings), couch surfing, and sleeping in homeless shelters.
2016 Census data (released today) compared to 2011 Census data:
• The rate of homelessness for young people aged 19-24 in NSW increased by 92% and is twice that of the general population.
• In NSW, 37,715 people (of all ages) were experiencing homelessness on the night of the 2016 Census (an increase of 37%).
• There was a 68% increase in the number of people of any age experiencing homelessness in Sydney’s inner city on Census night. However, homelessness affects metro and regional NSW, and this needs to be looked at.
• 60% of homeless young people aged 12-24 years old were living in ‘severely’ overcrowded dwellings.
• An increase of 31% in the number who are sleeping rough in NSW.
Yfoundations is the peak body for youth homelessness in NSW. It represents young people at risk of and experiencing homelessness in NSW, and also represents the services that provide direct support to children and young people. http://yfoundations.org.au/
Since it was founded as the 'Youth Refuge Action Group' in 1979, Yfoundations has been supporting young people who are at risk of and experiencing homelessness and works collaboratively with members, NGOs, government departments and community members, to provide policy and structural advocacy, services for young people, health projects, and research and sector development.
Yfoundations believes that with access to mechanisms that support the development and attainment of each foundation, a young person is more likely to enter adulthood with the skills, interests, competencies and healthy behaviours necessary build a productive and bright future.