A Decade of Government Inaction for Youth Homelessness

Ten years of government under-spending and inaction have exacerbated Australia’s youth homelessness crisis. A National Conference on Youth Homelessness will today present Four Policy Proposals to reform the support available to vulnerable and homeless youth.

A focus on early intervention, rapid rehousing, engagement in education, training or employment and extending state care to the age of 21 has been outlined.

Despite the implementation of government initiatives over the past decade to reduce homelessness, the number of people currently experiencing homelessness has increased to unprecedented levels. Of the 288,000 individuals who are supported in Specialist Homelessness Services, 125,000 were young people.

Paul McDonald, CEO of Anglicare Victoria and Chairperson of the Home Stretch campaign is presenting as a panel member at the conference today.

“Government to date has failed young and vulnerable people, particularly those in the Out-of-Home Care system. In order to implement a successful strategy to address the youth homelessness emergency, the Federal Government must show leadership and streamline a national approach to address the issue,” Paul said.

“Currently 63 per cent of homeless youth come from the Out-of-Home Care system. Around 3,000 young people will turn 18 this year and exit the state care, more than a third of them will be homeless by their 19th birthday.

“Extending care to 21 is the easiest and most cost-effective reform we have available. Evidence-based research shows that when state care is extended to 21, homelessness in Out-of-Home Care leavers is halved from 39 per cent to 19.5 per cent.

“Governments in the United States, UK, Canada and New Zealand have recognised that in the 21st century, age 18 is far too early to “evict” young people into the world of expensive housing, high rents, high unemployment and the need for higher education.

“The financial impact of young people leaving care, due to their higher dependence on government services, is estimated to be $2.4 billion – this is unacceptable considering we would see a return of two dollars for every dollar invested by Government in extending out-of-home care benefits.

“The Home Stretch initiative is a proven, evidence-based solution that can put Governments well on their way to improving the lives of our country’s most vulnerable young people. A quick and easy policy win for an incoming Federal Government.”

National Report Card on Youth Homelessness in Australia was launched at the commencement of the conference yesterday.

For more information on The Home Stretch please visit thehomestretch.org.au

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