Causes of youth homelessness – family breakdown

The Burdekin Association youth homelessness services

Family breakdown is one of the leading causes of youth homelessness in Australia today.

According to AIHW, in 2020–21, around 41,700 people aged 15–24 presented alone to SHS agencies, accounting for 15% of all SHS clients.

The main reasons these young people presented were:

  • family and domestic violence (17% or around 7,000 clients).
  • housing crisis (17% or around 7,000 clients).
  • relationship/family breakdown (13% or over 5,200 clients).

Other reasons include:

  • Difficult family situations such as parental drug and alcohol abuse, abuse, neglect
  • Leaving a parental home without stable employment
  • Leaving state care without an appropriate plan in place
  • Mental illness
  • Alcohol and other drug issues
  • Rejection or trauma associated with gender identity or expression
  • Discrimination in the private rental market due to lower income or lack of rental references
  • Insecure employment
  • Less access to social housing

Homelessness and the LGBTIQA+ community

In 2019 the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University, with support from Rainbow Health Australia and Rainbow Network conducted a report called Writing Themselves in 4. Researchers asked 6,418 LGBTIQA+ people, aged 14 to 21 about their experiences with education, homelessness, harassment, assault, mental health, community connections and more.

23.6 per cent had experienced homelessness and for 11.5 per cent it was in the past year. This was often directly related to family rejection of participants being LGBTIQA+.

In the Snapshot of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Statistics for LGBTQIA+ People from LGBTIQA+ LGBTIQA+ Health Australia. Young people aged 16 to 17 were over three times more likely to report high or very high levels of psychological distress.

The Journeys Home report found that Family rejection was a major issue for LGBTIQA+ people, and their pathway to homelessness is more complex with discrimination also coming from the housing sector.

Getting help

There are a large number of support services available today, both for young people and their families. Having open conversations about sexuality and gender is helpful, as is keeping an open mind and above all letting your child know they are loved and accepted for who they are. If you are a parent who is having a hard time, getting support from any of these organisations may be helpful. You can also ask us, we assist families and community with a range of support services.

We believe everyone deserves to feel safe, to be loved and have a home. Let us know if you found this article helpful or if there is anything you would add?

Causes of youth homelessness – bereavement

Youth Homelessness - parental bereavement

According to CREATE Foundation, there were 45,000 children and young people living in out-of-home care across Australia between June 2018 to 2019. However, this number changes every year as children and young people come in and out of the care system… you can read more here.

What is the leading cause of homelessness in young people?

According to AIWH, in 2019–20, three of the main reasons young people aged 15–24 sought assistance from specialist homelessness services were a housing crisis (17%), family and domestic violence (17%) and inadequate or inappropriate dwelling conditions (12%).


Another reason we might not hear about is parental bereavement. Did you know that 1 in 20 children in Australia will lose a parent by the time they’re 18?

Death of a parent can be an extremely stressful time for a child or young person even if they have the support of the other parent. What if they don’t – who takes care of the children? Usually it would be settled by the court in consultation with family but in the event there is nobody able or willing to, then the child would be placed in out of home care and the agency would try to find a suitable foster family.

When the bereavement happens with a young person they may come to Burdekin, where we offer wraparound, therapeutic care for the child or young person.

We recently listened to Dr Justin Coulson’s Happy Families podcast with his guest speaker Kristy Thomas, Co-Founder of Feel the Magic and the topic of Helping Kids Cope With Grief. Kristy says’ Feel the Magic was borne out of her own and her husbands bereavement and lack of resources in Australia.

Feel the Magic hold virtual and face-to-face camps teaching emotional literacy, coping strategies, tools to self-regulate and self soothe and they also get to meet others who are going through the same thing. Anxiety, dysregulation, overwhelm, isolation, withdrawal and risk-taking behaviours. A child who has had a significant bereavement before the age of 18 is six times more likely to die by suicide. Have a listen. Helping Kids Cope With Grief

Youth Homelessness Matters Day 2023

Youth Homelessness Matters Day 2023 sign the petition

Youth Homelessness Matters Day (YHMD) takes place on Wednesday 19th April and was conceived in 1990 to raise awareness and public discussion about child and youth homelessness.

Over the years, it has grown into a national celebration of young people’s resilience and an important day of advocacy for sustainable and innovative solutions to support the needs of children and young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

The Burdekin Association is honouring the day in a number of ways.

This year YFoundations are calling for the development of a standalone National Child and Youth Homelessness and Housing Strategy.

The Burdekin Association has signed the petition and ask that you sign it too. Please also share with friends, family and colleagues. Join the conversation and help us half youth homelessness by 2030.

Sign the petition, register your own YHMD event, get more information about YHMD2023.

Confront the Crisis – Housing for all

We recently attended the Confront the Crisis – Housing for All summit on ending homelessness and confronting the housing crisis in NSW.

Confront the Crisis

Confront the Crisis is a campaign by Community Housing Industry Association NSW which calls on each and every MP, each and every party in NSW to confront the housing crisis by committing to real, long-term investment in community housing ahead of the state election this March.

Housing for All Summit

Housing for All – NSW Pre- Election Town Hall event, was organised by Homelessness NSW and The Community Housing Industry Association NSW.

The event, taking place during the NSW state election campaign, was a chance for our political leaders, the sector, and the community to take another step towards a future NSW where everyone in NSW has a safe place to call home.

Hosted by journalist Joe Hildebrand, speakers included:

  • Mark Degotardi, Community Housing Industry Association NSW
  • Trina Jones, Homelessness NSW
  • Hal Pawson, City Futures Research Centre, UNSW
  • Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore
  • The Hon Rose Jackson, NSW Labor
  • Jenny Leong, MP NSW Greens
  • Alex Greenwich, MP Independent
  • Adina Cirson, The Property Council
Housing for All summit host Joe Hildebrand

Jenny Leong MP, Alex Greenwich MP and Rose Jackson MP discussing the NSW housing and homelessness crisis and the strategic and collaborative approach needed to solve the problem.

via @CHIA_NSW twitter

Key workers are struggling to find a place to live. Young people are losing hope. “The market will not fix itself. We need government intervention to provide essential affordable housing stock.” – The Hon. Rose Jackson, NSW Shadow Minister for Water, Housing and Homelessness.

via @CHIA_NSW twitter

“At the current rate of investment in NSW, it would take around 80 years to build enough social and affordable housing for the households currently on the NSW social housing waitlist.” – Trina Jones from @HomelessnessNSW

via @CHIA_NSW twitter

UNSW’s Hal Pawson talking about how NSW net supply of social housing is falling while demand is rising. Census data shows 144,000 households would be eligible for social housing – far more than the official NSW social housing waitlist shows.

via @CHIA_NSW twitter

City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and CHIA NSW and @HomelessnessNSW Housing for All event calling for sustained government investment in social and affordable housing.

via @CHIA_NSW twitter

“We have an opportunity to maximise the investment from the Housing Australia Future Fund.” 8,000 people joined the NSW social housing waitlist last year. CHIA NSW’s @MarkDegotardi says now is the time for action.

Next steps

Sign the petition and further resources.

Ending Homelessness Together campaign.

We acknowledge the Aboriginal people of the Cadigal and Gayamaygal Clans. We acknowledge the Country on which we live, work, and gather as being Aboriginal land.

We acknowledge the lands, waterways and skies that are connected to Aboriginal people. We honour them and pay our deepest respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

We respect their rightful place within our communities, and we value their ancient cultural knowledge and practices.

Aboriginal Flag
Torres Straight Island Flag

We deeply respect that this will always be Aboriginal land and we will honour and follow the first peoples’ values in caring for the Country and for preserving their culture.

We deeply value that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the oldest living culture in the world and we will continue to work with their peoples and communities to ensure their cultures endure and remain strong.