Young people experiencing homelessness need access to supportive and well-resourced services which provide them with the help they need to get back on their feet. That’s why Anglicare Victoria’s Youth Refuge exists, offering safe and secure crisis accommodation for young people between the ages of 16 and 22 who are experiencing homelessness.
Each young person that enters the refuge is provided with a key worker who works with them intensively to develop a case plan. The workers meet with their clients on a weekly basis and address the issues that have contributed to the young person’s homelessness. The young person identifies key goals that they would like to work on, such as job seeking, physical health, mental health, education, family reconciliation and alcohol and drug issues. Staff take turns running sessions on a variety of issues such as budgeting, cooking, hygiene, sexual health, contraception, smoking, drugs and alcohol, driving, interview skills and art projects that can be used as a distraction from risky or negative behaviours.
Recent Youth Homelessness Matters statistics indicate that 42% of the homelessness population is under 25 years old. Over the past few years, Youth Refuge workers have noticed an increase in the number of clients presenting with mental health and drug and alcohol issues.
Eighteen year old Eliza* is one young person who approached the refuge for help. Eliza spent her childhood moving between the care of her mother and father, who lived in different states, eventually settling at her mother’s home. Due to an ongoing conflict and her mother’s substance abuse issues, Eliza was forced to seek crisis accommodation and approached the Youth Refuge for help.
With only basic self-care and living skills when she arrived at the refuge, Eliza’s key worker supported her to help improve these skills and role model appropriate hygiene via a weekly living skills program, which runs three days a week. Within a matter of weeks Eliza had actively engaged in the refuge living skills program and weekly chore and cooking roster.
As Eliza had no income or personal identification, she was provided support to obtain Centrelink payments and apply for her interstate birth certificate.
Refuge staff work on gaining housing for all residents as well as focus on preparing residents for independent living. Eliza was supported to access a Lead Tenant property, which provides young people who cannot live at home the change to develop independent living skills. Eliza continued to develop her independence, self-care and living skills. The youth refuge provided the major steps to guide her in the right direction for a better future.
*All names, ages and images have been changed to protect client privacy.