- “As the development of Victoria’s 10-year housing strategy nears completion, we have an opportunity to ensure the needs of young people are recognised."
- Young people have distinctive pathways into, and experiences of homelessness
- Current Government policies have been ineffective in reducing youth homelessness in Victoria
The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) is calling the Victorian Government to implement a Youth Homelessness Strategy to help support the unique needs of young people in the state.
AHURI’s research, Towards a Youth Homelessness Strategy for Victoria, found current Government policies have been ineffective in reducing youth homelessness in Victoria.
AHURI’s head of development Dr Tom Alves said, “While young people experiencing homelessness are recognised as a national priority cohort under the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) between the Commonwealth and State/Territory governments, in Victoria there is currently no overarching strategy to address youth homelessness and coordinate support and interventions for young people who are homeless.”
“The current system is fragmented, designed for adults and doesn’t provide stability for young people who have no home and nowhere else to turn, and who have experienced significant trauma in their childhoods, such as family breakdown or abuse.”
Wayne Merrit, Melbourne City Mission general manager of homelessness and family services
Young people have distinctive pathways into, and experiences of homelessness, and to meet their needs there needs to be a youth-specific strategy, states the report.
Mr Merrit said, “As the development of Victoria’s 10-year housing strategy nears completion, we have an opportunity to ensure the needs of young people are recognised and included in the emerging policy landscape.
“A large part of this is about giving young people the support to process the sometimes truly horrific events of their young lives and move forward with positive strategies for managing their own mental health and wellbeing, so they can participate in education, work, and the community.”
A youth-specific lens is essential
Young people experiencing homelessness are quite distinct to adults experiencing homelessness. Programs to meet the needs of young people need to support their transition to adulthood across a range of areas including housing and living skills; health and wellbeing; education and learning; employment and economic participation; and connection to culture and community.
Young people are not a minority
A youth homelessness strategy needs to embrace all young people regardless of how they might self-identify. Young people are too often classed as a minority group (in the same way as LGBTQI+ or people from CALD backgrounds may be identified), however, youth homelessness is intersectional and embraces all young people no matter how they might otherwise see themselves.
A person-centred approach can prevent young people getting ‘stuck in the system’
Young people are finding themselves trapped in a fragmented system with no clear pathways out of homelessness based on their individual circumstances. Homelessness strategies must ensure young people don’t get ‘stuck in the system’ and that young people don’t just get ‘processed’ as homeless when there are other issues that are of equal concern.
Disrupt the pathway from youth homeless to adult homelessness
Early and effective intervention reduces longer-term consequences. The evidence shows that people who experience youth homelessness are more likely to face homelessness again as an adult – reducing the impact of homelessness early can have life-long benefits
Housing solutions are fundamental to effective service system responses
Lack of affordable, safe housing is a major problem – with time limited, supported housing they can go on to complete education and skills training before moving into their own independent housing. As young people can be very vulnerable, they also need housing that is separate from housing for the adult homeless population (e.g boarding houses).
Source: AHURI, Towards a Youth Homelessness Strategy for Victoria, 2021