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School student’s campaign to cut out youth homelessness

2 min read

In the first event of a new statewide campaign, 129 life-size cutouts were placed in an inner Melbourne private school to raise awareness for the number of local young people facing homelessness. 

The “Cut Out Youth Homelessness Campaign” is the brainchild of Year 10 Caulfield Grammar School student, Yasmin Bowden, who came up with the idea while planning a school community project last year. 

Yasmin is the granddaughter of Susan Barton AM, who founded the Lighthouse Foundation more than 30 years ago to provide therapeutic care and housing to children and young people experiencing homelessness in Melbourne. 

“I said to Nanny that the usual options for fundraising didn’t feel like I was making a real difference,” shared Yasmin.  

“We delved into discussions about how many children and young people were homeless around our school community and I was so shocked there were so many.” 

“As part of my Year 9 Community Project at school, we brainstormed how we could let my friends and their parents know that this was happening, by placing cut-outs around our school to bring the hidden issue of youth homelessness out into the open.” 

Using Census data, the initiative uses cut-outs to represent the number of homeless youth in a council area, encouraging students to think about and fundraise for, those in their local area doing it tough. 

Caulfield Grammar was the first school to roll out the campaign raising over $4000. With another seven schools across Melbourne already booked in for the initiative, Yasmin hopes it will “spread to schools nationwide”. 

“Caulfield Grammar School is incredibly proud to support Lighthouse Foundation’s vital mission to help end youth homelessness through educating and raising awareness of the youth homelessness crisis in local communities,” said Ashleigh Martin, Caulfield Grammar School Principal.

Yasmin Bowden with the life-size cutouts

“It was so wonderful to see Yasmin’s idea for her Year 9 Community project, which is all about our students finding a cause they’re passionate about and taking action within the broader community outside of school, turning into real and meaningful action here supporting Lighthouse Foundation’s work with the most vulnerable in the community,” said Susan Barton AM, Lighthouse Foundation Founder. 

“Knowing the work Lighthouse does and the pressing issue of homelessness among children and young people, I wanted to support Yasmin’s ambition to personalise the issue for school kids in order to create meaningful change in their local communities.” 

“Lighthouse has worked to realise the concept, ensuring the cardboard cutouts look authentic and are relatable to school-aged students. Yasmin’s dream is to make significant strides towards ending homelessness for children and young people. 

According to Barton, the most recent Census data shows nearly a quarter (23%) of all Australians experiencing homelessness are aged 12 to 24 years. We know schools have a significant role to play in helping end homelessness for children and young people.” 

For more on housing and homelessness, check out Third Sector’s 6th Annual National Housing and Homelessness Forum.

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.


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