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Youth Homelessness Matters Day

Youth Homelessness Matters Day 2024

Across Australia in 2022-23, almost 39,000 young people (15-24 years of age) presented alone to a specialist homelessness service. Of these young people, the majority were in need of short or long term accommodation.

Half of the young people who tried to get a bed in a crisis refuge in 2022-23 were turned away because services couldn’t accommodate them.

Around a third of young people that presented to specialist homelessness services had experienced domestic and family violence. And, around a third of young people presenting along to specialist homelessness services identified as Indigenous to Australia.

It is becoming clear, according to Yfoundations, the broader rental, housing and cost of living crisis is putting more pressure on homeless service providers and making it harder for children and young people to find a home.

Yfoundations is the peak body for youth homelessness in NSW. For over 40 years, yfoundations has represented and advocated for children and young people at risk of and experiencing homelessness, and the services that support them. 

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) data 202-23 advises that the capacity of homelessness services has fallen by almost 17,000 clients a year and services face a $73 million funding shortfall from June 2024 (Yfoundations media release, December 2023.)

In 2022-23, three in 10 clients at specialist homelessness services (SHS) were under the age of 18. Almost 40,000 of SHS clients in 2022-23 were children and young people (15-24) presenting on their own. Similar to previous years, females and First Nations people were overrepresented in these figures.

Yfoundations

Wednesday April 17, 2024 is Youth Homelessness Matters Day. It’s a national day that aims to raise awareness and public discussion about child and youth homelessness. It’s been held every year since 1990 and has grown into a national commemoration of young people’s resilience. It’s also a day for yfoundations and other services like The Burdekin Association to seek innovative solutions to support the needs of children and young people at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. It’s a day that’s showcased online and in communities around Australia.

“Every day in 2022/23, 295 people who needed a crisis bed or help were turned away because services were at capacity. We believe, these numbers will be much higher in reality, because we know that children and young people will couch surf, remain in violent homes, or sleep rough because they have no idea that services exist. Even if they did, the report demonstrates they are unlikely to get a bed tonight because services are full.”

Trish Connolly, yfoundations CEO

Yfoundations is hoping that these statistics will be taken into consideration when the federal government develops the National Housing and Homelessness Plan and Agreement this year.

Yfoundations’ view is that the solution lies in increasing the funding for crisis homelessness services, so that children and young people are not living in unsafe and violent situations, and that the federal government commits to standalone homelessness and housing plans to end child and youth homelessness. Their submission aims to demonstrate how failures of the child protection system and other service systems have had significant impacts on the youth homelessness service system.

The plan will need to respond to the diversity and complexity of young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness to support their transition into a future of self reliance and wellbeing. It should be part of a national approach in responding to housing supply shortages.

To find out more about Youth Homelessness Matters Day, click here.

What a difference volunteers make!

Qualtrics volunteers assist to transform a property for a young person.

A huge thank you to the amazing team of volunteers at Qualtrics for helping us transform a single storey, two-bedroom property for a 19-year-old single mother with two children under the age of two.

Six employees from Qualtrics, which helps organisations improve their customer and employee experience, put up their hands to transform the property as part of their annual volunteering inititiative, XM Day.

Armed with gardening tools and a positive attitude, they participated in a volunteering day, where they assisted in:

  • Painting the living room
  • Moving a new couch into the newly painted living room
  • Pruning and tidying up the garden
  • Patching up a couple of dents in the walls
  • Revamping the kitchen
  • Tidying up the garage and car port
  • Taking rubbish to Kimbriki Resource Recovery Centre
  • Scrubbing the bathroom to remove mould
  • Removing plastic bottles and recycling them

The generous team also donated two car seats for the children, children’s clothes, toys, new towels, new cushions and a rug, and stationery to help the young mother with their TAFE studies.

Doctor Cecila Herbert from Qualtrics also went the extra mile and donated plants from her own garden and planted them in the property’s garden.

Thank you Qualtrics, your team of volunteers have truly made a difference in this young mother’s life and we couldn’t be more grateful! This is why we do what we do!

And finally, a big shout out of thanks to Bunnings Warringah Mall for donating paint, that provided the living room with a new lease on life.

If your organisation or business would like to volunteer with The Burdekin Association, check out our volunteering opportunities here. We’d love to hear from you.

Alcohol Education Workshop proves a hit with students!

Alcohol Education Workshop held by The Burdekin Association as part of the Canada Bay Library Project

The Burdekin Association recently conducted an Alcohol Education Workshop as part of the Canada Bay Youth Space Project, in collaboration with Concord High School. Thirty Year 9 students actively participated in these informative sessions.

Throughout the workshops, Year 9 students delved into topics such as the impact of alcohol on decision-making, the hazards associated with excessive alcohol consumption, the physiological effects of alcohol on the human body, and the crucial importance of responsible drinking. 

One engaging activity involved students wearing “beer goggles”, simulating the experience of intoxication. This exercise aimed to provide a firsthand understanding of the challenges posed by impaired perception. The beer goggles functioned by altering the participants’ view, affecting their balance and stability. This alteration made it challenging for students to walk in a straight line or perform seemingly simple tasks such as pouring a drink, reading a tongue twister, picking up a coin, or maintaining a straight path while walking. 

Through this immersive activity, students gained valuable insights into the effects of alcohol on one’s abilities and behaviour.

The students expressed favourable opinions about the interactive components of the workshop, emphasising how these hands-on experiences greatly enriched their comprehension and heightened their awareness of the potential hazards and risks associated with excessive drinking.

The students gained insight into:

  • How alcohol influences decision making.
  • The impact alcohol has on a person’s ability to drive.
  • The consequences of mixing alcohol with energy drinks.
  • The importance of responsible drinking
  • Safety measures that you can put in place to help yourself and your friends.

Other key learnings the students gained from the experience:

(In their own words)

  • Eat something before you go out, so that you’re not drinking on an empty stomach.
  • Always have someone with you and look after your mates.
  • Call the ambulance if needed.
  • Lay the affected person in the recovery position while waiting for help.
  • Alcohol can harm your brain.
  • Don’t drink and mix alcohol (depressant) with energy drinks (stimulant).
  • Vomiting doesn’t always help you to sober up.
  • Don’t drive home from a party if you drink alcohol.
  • Alcohol takes one hour to be processed by your liver.
  • Call the ambulance on 112 on your mobile if you need help.

The giveaway fidget spinners provided by The Burdekin Association were a tremendous hit among the students. The QR code on the fidget spinners directed people to ‘Your Room’, a “Community Drug Action Team” (CDAT) resource hub for up-to-date and accurate information on alcohol and other drugs.

The positive feedback, high level of engagement and enthusiastic participation from the Year 9 students indicate that similar workshops can be valuable tools in educating and raising awareness among students on critical issues related to alcohol consumption. 

For more information on the Canada Bay Youth Space Project, please click here.

Manly residence refurbished and reinvigorated!

We have some exciting news! Our residence in Manly was recently refurbished to welcome three new young people, after five months of hard work on the property. 

In collaboration with three volunteers from ReLove and four volunteers from Stockland volunteering on their Social Responsibility Day, we were able to furnish the rooms and the living spaces of the property. One of the volunteers fortuitously was an Interior Designer who was able to help with determining the layout of the rooms.

ReLove rescues furniture and whitegoods from their corporate partners and community and delivers it directly to people who need a helping hand. They transported the furniture to our property, and supported us with assembling/organising the furniture.

Stockland is a community partner of The Burdekin Association and four of their employees assisted with the refurbishment of the premises. It was an incredibly uplifting experience where collaboration, positivity and interagency support were demonstrated in full! They helped make the process an effective and a positive one for all involved.

There are now three young people living in the property and enjoying the premises. Each of them were empowered to become directly involved, choosing their own furniture for their bedrooms from ReLove and furnishing the property. 

Best of all, each of the young people received a ‘welcome booklet’ to welcome them to their new home, and were encouraged to organise how they wanted to live in the property. 

One of the young people came with their grandmother to share dinner at the premises, see the property and become familiar with it, setting down roots. 

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?

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.