In any given year approximately 20% of young people accessing BYS for support are parents. Young people also seek our support due to relationship breakdown with their family of origin, which causes or places them at significant risk of homelessness.
Strengthening sustainable family support from a youthwork approach has been identified as advantageous to young people’s longer-term stability and wellbeing, based on the successful internal trial of our youth-specific approach to family engagement work.
BYS has accessed flagship funding through Hand Heart Pocket to design and implement an innovative approach to building the strength of young people’s relationships with their chosen family. The Safe and Connected Futures Program will run from 2021-26.
It’s time we turned off the taps. Australia’s children and young people should not be left homeless.
The Federal Government must address Australia’s child and youth homelessness problem. The argument for a National Child and Youth Housing and Homelessness Plan is not new. Many governments have attempted to address homelessness only to leave children and young people as one or two recommendations in an adult-focused strategy. While there have been many child and youth wellbeing strategies nationally (National Mental Health Commission’s National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy’ for the most recent), they have not adequately addressed the issue of homelessness. The Federal Government has been largely silent on this issue.
Pathways Into Couchsurfing From Child Safety Involvement
Couchsurfing, or temporarily staying with friends, extended family, acquaintances, or strangers, is a growing form of homelessness within Australia, and particularly concentrated among youth. System involvement with child welfare and its link to youth homelessness has previously been well-established, but not within the context of couchsurfing.
Young Women Navigating Homelessness and Pregnancy
Women who are young, pregnant, and navigating homelessness have compounding and intersecting vulnerabilities, with both their own and their unborn child’s welfare at risk. Young women facing these challenges have increased risks associated with escalation of mental health concerns, family and relationship violence, physical health issues, poor nutrition, financial issues, and a range of other stressors including the broader elevated health issues that impact Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander young people. Babies impacted by parental homelessness are more likely to have pregnancy and birth issues including low birth weight, developmental challenges, thrive delays and other medical complications.