The National Youth Homelessness Conference took place last week in Melbourne. A timely reminder of the national housing shortage, increased cost of rent and youth mental health crisis all due to rising interest rates, failure to address housing shortage in a timely manner and lack of sufficient investment into prevention and early intervention programs.
Ministers, senior practitioners and policy makers, young people with lived experience, CEOs, program managers, case workers and more gathered for the Conference to discuss solutions to these issues and the need for a national plan to address child and youth homelessness in Australia.
Our Chief Executive Officer, Justene Gordon attended the Conference as well as our Patron, Brian Burdekin AO and a small delegation of Burdekin employees. Brian delivered the keynote address 'Framing the Conference' and participated in two further conference sessions, Housing as a Human Right and the closing panel session. The conference ended on a high with a standing ovation to him.
Our Patron Professor Brian Burdekin, AO opened the conference with the following words:
Minister, Mr Josh Burns MP Chairman of the Federal Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Lord Mayor, Commissioners, ladies and gentlemen.
Thanks very much for that kind introduction.
I welcome this Conference and I congratulate the organisers on putting it together. (I’ve got some idea of the enormous amount of time involved).
Three decades ago, we got our Federal Government – and our State Governments – to focus on, and respond effectively to, the human rights abuses being suffered by homeless children and young people.
How do we do that again in 2023?
In terms of framing this Conference, there are 3 major aspects to this in light of the Inquiry I conducted over thirty years ago and those conducted since.
The first is that there are many issues we identified that are not, now, being adequately addressed.
The second concerns the extent to which these issues are interrelated.
And the third concerns the extent to which the situation has deteriorated.
What our team said about it:
Linley Hayes, Residential Youth Worker, Burdekin Association
There were a huge number of experts in one room, including young people with lived experience, giving us an understanding of why we're doing what we're doing and what we can do better.
Sian Gordon, Case Manager, The Burdekin Association
Tweets from the NYHC2023
@NYCInquiryAU We are live from Marvel Stadium today for the National Children and Youth Homelessness Conference. Please stay tuned for our updates as we gather for this important event. #NCYHC23 National Youth Commission Australia.
@CEOYFOUNDATIONS Privileged today to be on the keynote panel ‘Is there a case for a national plan to address child and youth homelessness? @YDA_Australia National Child & Youth Homelessness Conference. Answer – yes we do, sign our petition now: http://bit.ly/46Zdx1v
Callista Thillou @CThillou Shockingly nearly 40% of Australia’s homeless population is under 24 years. Learning a lot @ the @YDA_Australia National Child & Youth Homelessness Conf. with @CEOYFOUNDATIONS. We need a dedicated strategy for our next generation sign our petition: http://bit.ly/46Zdx1v #NCYHC23
Great to hear @Mon4Kooyong talking about the critical issue of prevention of #youthhomelessness and the supports needed to provide the mental health and other services needed for children to be safe and supported #NCYHC2023
Great to hear @DavidPocock acknowledging the over representation of children and young people among people without homes and supporting the call for a child and youth homelessness plan. #NCYHC2023
Great to hear @JulieCollinsMP saying the National Housing and Homelessness Plan will have an ambitious agenda and tackle the drivers of child and youth homelessness #NCYHC2023
@FoyerFoundation We have arrived at the National Children and Youth Homelessness Conference
@NYCInquiryAU at @marvelstadiumau - the ideal forum to connect, share ideas and find innovative ways to support young people at risk of experiencing homelessness. #NCYHC23
#ComingUp we are looking forward to hearing from our two Youth Foyer Ambassadors, Tyrah Chan-Hampton and David Saint who are opening #NCYHC23 with their ideas about what governments can do to improve outcomes for children and young people in need of support around Australia.
Associate Professor Catherine Robinson is speaking at #NCYHC23 emphasising that government focus on housing as a key response to homelessness will miss out children and young people with complex needs.
@FoyerFoundation strongly supports the call for a National Children and Youth Homelessness Plan together with increased investment in vital services to support children and young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
CEO, Liz Cameron-Smith is ready to join a live panel discussion to talk about the Foyer model and its holistic approach that aims to break the cycle and promote long-term wellbeing and stability for young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
Our current system is skewed to crisis services with limited medium to long term supports, meaning that young people have limited pathways to move from a point of crisis towards a trajectory of independence with a stable roof over their head, education and a job.
In this landscape, we need more services like Youth Foyers that integrate housing, education and employment to enable young people to take charge of their future.
“None of us is here to pitch one model against another. At the end of the day we need a service system that works for young people. We now have an opportunity to challenge the way services are commissioned” - Liz Cameron-Smith, CEO
Youth Foyers provide more than just housing; they offer a holistic environment where young people are empowered to build the lives they want. We urge our leaders and policymakers to increase availability of these invaluable resources to ensure no one gets left behind.