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Youth homelessness: A snapshot

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The 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics Census estimates that 39% of Victorians counted as experiencing homelessness on Census night were under 25 years old. The fact that 9742 young people are without a home can come as a shock as the issue is largely invisible.

While there are many young people sleeping rough on the street, many more are staying:

  • at a friend’s place for a few nights (sleeping on the couch)
  • in emergency accommodation or rooming houses
  • in caravan parks or improvised dwellings

Statistics show high rates of youth homelessness, however, the figures available are only the tip of the iceberg as many young people (and young families) are couch surfing or staying in temporary or unsuitable accommodation and so don't qualify as being homeless.

An increasing number of young people find themselves homeless due to family breakdown, lack of affordable housing, and family violence. This includes young people who are:

  • pregnant or have children
  • living with a physical or intellectual disability
  • witnesses to or victims/survivors of neglect, bullying, abuse and violence
  • at risk of or already living with mental health needs
  • disengaged with education, training, employment, their family and/or community

It can be tough on young people who are homeless — they are more likely to remain unemployed, disengaged from school/uni, use drugs and alcohol, have poor health outcomes, be exploited by others, and remain homeless for extended periods. They also live constantly with feelings of grief, loss and guilt, and they feel disconnected and isolated from their family, friends and community.

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