For some young people, a sleeping bag and safety plan is their only option

Nov 06, 2023

Nearly every day last week, Brisbane Youth Service workers handed out sleeping bags and tents to young people unable to access suitable crisis accommodation in the city. (Brisbane Times: Courtney Kruk)

As chief executive Pam Barker explained, the service only provides those items if it’s the only option left.

“Our first option is a bed in a hotel or motel or in one of our services,” she said.

“If a young person does have to sleep rough, we provide them with a sleeping bag and a safety plan.”

About 37 per cent of homeless people in Queensland are under the age of 25, and many of those young people are struggling with complex issues such as trauma and poor mental health.

Barker said BYS had a list of over 60 young people sleeping rough in and around Brisbane City.

“The housing options for a young person with limited funds and no rental history is bleak. There’s just nothing available,” Barker said.

“The lack of access to affordable housing, the increase of rents, young people being pushed out of the market due to people who can afford to pay more or who have bigger rental histories … these are all contributing to [youth homelessness].”

Requests for urgent assistance from BYS, a specialist youth crisis and support service with six locations across Brisbane, have risen by 88 per cent in the last four years, with the organisation seeing up to 40 people per day at their Fortitude Valley hub.