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1 in 6 young people in Australia have been homeless

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We’re a rich country but that doesn’t stop 1 in 6 of our young people experiencing homelessness, the figure includes those living in refuges, transitional accommodation and/or having spent time couch surfing.

Sadly, it starts young almost one in five of those who had couch surfed (19.5%) reported that they had first done so when they were less than 12 years old.

Young People’s Experiences of Homelessness report from Mission Australia says 15.6% of young people responding to Mission Australia’s Youth Survey 2017 experienced homelessness.

Among those who reported couch surfing, these experiences were often not isolated, with only one in five (19.8%) indicating this had happened on just one occasion with 7.0% reporting having stayed away for periods longer than six months.

Mission Australia CEO, James Toomey said: “This is such an important report as it gives us not only an insight into the scale of youth homelessness in Australia but, perhaps most importantly, a better understanding of who these young people are and how they are impacted by homelessness.

“It allows us to understand how their experiences differ from those young people who haven’t experienced homelessness, such as experiencing low self-esteem and happiness, and gives us some clues as to what supports are most needed. 

“For many years, the community sector has put forward evidence-based solutions to end youth homelessness, but sadly we see from the recent census that numbers are still growing. This is just not acceptable and we urgently call on all governments to make this a priority.”

Mission Australia is participating in Everybody’s Home which calls for a commitment to end homelessness by 2030 and we believe ending youth homelessness is an important part of this goal. We know what works, but it needs funding, leadership, continuous commitment and shared effort which will best be achieved through a national homelessness strategy.

Young people’s experiences of homelessness: Youth Survey 2017 Key research findings

21,812 respondents aged 15-19 years

Nearly 1 in 6 reported having experienced homelessness (with or without their families)

Key differences among young people who had and hadn’t experienced homelessness:

Study/employment

Perceived barriers to the achievement of their study/work goals: 70% vs. 47%

Highly value getting a job: 49% vs. 37%

Concerns

Highly concerned about family conflict: 44% vs. 15%

Highly concerned about depression: 44% vs. 19%

Mental health and wellbeing

Met criteria for probable serious mental illness: 48% vs. 19%

Felt they had no control over their life: 10% vs. 2%

Felt negative/very negative about the future: 19% vs. 8%


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