Youth Homelessness Matters Day (YHMD) on 18 April 2018, a part of Youth Week, brings critical attention to youth homelessness in NSW as it grows at an epidemic rate, having doubled in the ten years since the 2006 Census. With 9,048 young people aged 12-24 recorded as homeless on 2016 Census night, the youth homelessness issue in NSW has reached crisis point.
Yfoundations, the NSW peak body for youth homelessness, will be announcing its aim of halving the number of youth experiencing homelessness in NSW by 2030.
Zoe Robinson, CEO of Yfoundations believes the lack of discourse around this issue is a disgrace and is determined to use YHMD 2018 to get youth homelessness on the agenda once and for all:
“Our aim for this year’s Youth Homelessness Matters Day is for government, the private sector and the community to enter into meaningful, actionable conversation about the youth homelessness epidemic we are experiencing in NSW and wider Australia.
“Let’s be clear, we’re talking about children as young as twelve, who through no fault of their own, have slipped through the cracks. Youth homelessness is rarely the fault of the victim - rather their plight is commonly collateral damage of domestic violence, mental health, family breakdowns, and financial hardship brought on from wider societal issues. Youth homelessness takes on many forms but, in many cases, they are a hidden statistic,” said Robinson.
Yfoundations, the peak body for youth homelessness in NSW is calling on political leaders to meet with these young people, listen to their stories and commit to a national plan to tackle the issue.
Robinson explained, “Reducing youth homelessness is rightfully one of the 12 Premier’s Priorities. However, the rate of youth homelessness in NSW has increased by an alarming 92% since 2006. Youth homelessness needs to be given significantly more attention and resource if even the smallest reduction is to be achieved.
“In order to halve the number of homeless youth in NSW by 2030 we will need at least double the current annual funding of $198 million.
“The NSW Premier’s goal is to increase the number of young people entering long term housing by 34% by 2019. This is only part of the solution and does not address the complexity of the issue. We are asking the NSW government for increased funding for housing options, training, alternative education options and early intervention.
“We are calling for increased funding for the programs that work, such as early intervention and specialist services and solutions, alternative education options, 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,” said Robinson.
“It’s not just the young people that are seen sleeping rough on the streets; it’s those who are couch-surfing or sleeping in their car, and the thousands that are taking refuge in overcrowded homeless shelters.
“The right support can make a significant difference to a young person experiencing homelessness. They can get back on track and live life; do all the things many of us take for granted. They can sit for exams, go to the formal, get an after-school job and, yes, they can absolutely thrive, go to uni; have a career, contribute to society, and have a family of their own.
“It’s heartbreaking to see, on one hand, the positive change that can be achieved though access to services, with the simultaneous realisation that these services are at capacity and are not able to support and assist all young people at that time of need, youth in NSW due to funding shortfalls.
“We’re calling on everyone to get involved and take this issue on - whether you’re a politician, a member of the business community or a concerned parent or friend. Youth homelessness is a whole of community issue that can and will be solved if we work together.
“We’re asking everyone to find their voice, have an opinion and share it with the hashtag #YHMD2018,” concluded Robinson.
Youth Homelessness Matters Day
Show your support for solutions for NSW’s youth homelessness epidemic by visiting to the official public event for Youth Homelessness Matters Day.
When – 8:00am till 10:00am 18 April 2018
Where – Near the Basketball Courts, Prince Alfred Park, Sydney (map: https://www.dropbox.com/s/i0ixphouima86l9/Youth%20Homelessness%20Matters%20Day%202018%20location.jpg?dl=0 )
What is happening –
Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek will open the event which includes an address from NSW Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward, Independent Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich as well as a live panel discussion on youth homelessness with Andrew Johnson, the Advocate for Children and Young People, Dr Katherine McFarlane (Centre for Law and Justice), Monique Hitter (Legal Aid) and Shaza Rifi (NSW Young Woman of the Year and President of the Muslim Women’s Association).
Key service providers will be there in a show of force against the growing challenge of youth homelessness, and will have more information about how you can make a difference to the youth homelessness crisis.
Register/more info - https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/youth-homelessness-matters-day-tickets-44083823904
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.