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Stark reminder of the increasing number of homeless youth

2 min read

Hundreds of life-size cut-outs appeared on the State Library steps yesterday as a confronting reminder that the number of young people facing homelessness is growing.

It’s to mark Youth Homelessness Matters Day (17 April) and is part of a wider campaign which uses Census data to represent the number of homeless youth in a council area. In the City of Melbourne, the most recent statistics show there are 268 people under the age of 25 experiencing homelessness.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of all Australians experiencing homelessness are aged 12 to 24 years, and more than 45,000 children and young people in Australia are without a safe home every night

CEO of youth homelessness charity Lighthouse Foundation, Dr Eamonn McCarthy, said unfortunately that number is growing.

“Mental health issues among children and young people are on the rise.”

“Family violence has increased, and the higher cost of living, paired with the housing crisis, is pushing more children, young people, and families to the brink of homelessness,” Dr McCarthy added.

“Tragically, we’re also seeing that the children requiring help are getting younger. Some of the challenges we may historically have seen for kids who are 15, 16, 17 are now being seen in children as young as seven, eight, and nine.”

For 33 years, the Victoria-based Lighthouse Foundation has been providing young people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, with the care and support they need to heal and thrive.

“Youth homelessness has devastating consequences on young people’s lives, leading to poverty, mental health issues, and limited opportunities.”

“If we don’t stop this cycle of youth homelessness, more children and young people will live in poverty, experiencing trauma, and prolonged disadvantage for decades to come.”

According to Dr McCarthy, Melbourne is often named one of the world’s most liveable cities, and it’s unacceptable we have more than 6000 young people without a safe home every night.

Lighthouse Foundation is also raising awareness of youth homelessness through its new Cut Out Youth Homelessness Campaign in schools across Melbourne over the next few months to help young people understand what their peers may be experiencing.

“We know schools have a significant role to play in helping end homelessness for children and young people.”

The Cut Out Youth Homelessness campaign sets out to personalise youth homelessness for school kids to encourage them to create meaningful change in their local communities,” said Dr McCarthy.

For more on housing, 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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