Today marks Youth Homelessness Matters Day.
It’s probably fair to say that many people don’t even know this day exists.
For a long time, I was absolutely one of these people. To be honest, until I was encouraged by a mate (and now fellow Co-Founder of HoMie, Marcus Crook) to join him in having a chat with a person living rough on Swanston St in 2014, I was completely indifferent towards homelessness.
I thought it was unfortunate and would give my spare change to a person living rough as I walked by, but that was just about it. I, like many, had assumed the image of ‘homelessness’ was an older man with a dishevelled appearance, often accompanied by a bottle in hand, laying on the streets in the CBD. I want to emphasise that this was an assumption; a preconceived notion perpetuated mostly via mainstream media.
However, one simple conversation changed my perspective entirely.
The key reason it changed my perception was very simply because it was just that - a normal, friendly chat with another human being. It was in that very moment that I realised I had been looking at it all wrong - this was not a homeless person, but rather a person experiencing homelessness.
Further research has ultimately led me to being here (after having worked five years in the sector) writing this piece today. Things you need to know about the issue:
- Most homelessness doesn’t actually occur on the streets (according to the most recent census, approximately 7,000 people live rough on the streets out of the total 120,000+ people experiencing homelessness on any given night in Australia)
- There are now over 28,000 young people between the ages of 12-25 that are experiencing homelessness (38%). 1 in 6 young people between the ages of 15-19 have either experienced or are currently experiencing homelessness in our country
- The youth unemployment rate is 13% (more than double the national average)
Maybe you too, have got youth homelessness all wrong.
To put it lightly, there is an inherent material and systemic issue within the broader issue here, and that is WHY youth homelessness matters.
We have a genuine opportunity to break the cycle of homelessness if we invest in our young people at this critical moment to ensure a life of chronic homelessness can be eradicated entirely.
I wrote a piece on YHMD in 2019 and included an excerpt from former CEO of Yfoundations (and now NSW Advocate for Children and Young People), Zoe Robinson, that remains as pertinent as ever: “Youth Homelessness requires a holistic solution, it is not simply about a house it is about opportunities - for health, for employment, for security and the opportunity to thrive.”
Now you know why it matters, here’s what you can do right now to make a real difference to youth homelessness - check out some of our amazing service partners here
Thanks for your support, Nick Pearce
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