It is hard for many of us to comprehend, but trapped within the current political and social system, children as young as 12 are facing life without a permanent roof over their heads.
The 2016 census recorded over 37,000 people without a home in New South Wales. This figure is even more sobering when you realise 9,000 of those were children. While the problem is not unique to NSW, there is no escaping the fact that the state is Australia’s worst offender. The next closest is Victoria, with 6,373.
Reducing youth homelessness had been one of the NSW Premier’s key 12 priorities, backed with actions including the Rent Choice Youth Subsidy and investing $1 billion into social housing and homelessness services.
The team previously reached its goal of increasing the number of young people entering stable housing from 29% to 34%. While the sentiment — and the cash — appeared to be heading in the right direction as one small part of solution, it is now unclear what the Premier and her new team are planning on committing to around youth homelessness specifically. This time around, the targets must be higher.
And while there has been a pre-election commitment by the NSW Premier to reduce rough sleeping, we want it to go further. Homelessness is not just the young people seen sleeping rough on the streets; it’s those couch-surfing or sleeping in their car, and the thousands taking refuge in overcrowded homeless shelters. Reducing rough sleeping is one part of the solution, and it isn’t focussed on prevention.
SOURCE: Zoë Robinson. “Youth Homelessness is a National Crisis.” Women’s Agenda, April 2019.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia