Groups call for federal action on youth homelessness

Keira Jenkins |

The “Home Time” campaign is demanding the Commonweatlh take action on youth homelessness.
The “Home Time” campaign is demanding the Commonweatlh take action on youth homelessness.

A national campaign has been launched calling on the federal government to fix the housing system after thousands of young people experienced homelessness.

More than 80 groups from across Australia have banded together to pressure the Commonwealth, saying a lack of housing is pushing young people down a path of risk and lost opportunities.

As part of their “Home Time” campaign, the coalition group has written to Federal Housing Minister Julie Collins demanding action on youth homelessness backed by data released on Friday.

More than 37,000 young people approached specialist homelessness services in 2022-2023 including 9000 aged 15 to 17, it said.

Thirty per cent of young people accessing services were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

“The fact that 44 per cent of children and young people using homelessness services are still homeless after getting help is a stark reflection of the lack of housing options for this group,” Homelessness Australia CEO Kate Colvin said.

“These young people are at a crossroads in their lives.

Homelessness Australia CEO Kate Colvin
May’s budget should be an opportunity to invest in youth homelessness services, Kate Colvin says. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

“If they get the housing and support they need, we know they can thrive. Without it, we are pushing young people down a path full of risks and lost opportunities.”

As part of their campaign, the coalition group have urged the government to develop 15,000 youth tenancies for 16 to 24 year olds, link support services for young people and address the rental gap.

The campaign launch comes before May’s federal budget, which Ms Colvin said should be used as an opportunity to invest in youth homelessness services.

More than 50,000 of clients seen by specialist homelessness services in 2022/23 were aged between 15 to 24, a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed on Friday.

The most common reasons for young people to seek out help was the housing crisis, accounting for 19 per cent, as well as domestic and family violence (15 per cent).

Melbourne City Mission’s Shorna Moore said thousands of children come to her organisation for help each year.

“They have lived with instability, fear and trauma and have been told over and over again that there is no housing for them,” she said.

“Without a home, these children and young people are forced into situations that most adults would never comprehend experiencing.”

Housing Minister Julie Collins said the government was already enacting the most significant housing reforms in a generation.

They include $25 billion in new housing investments, support for renters, and the development of the National Housing and Homelessness Plan.

“We will continue to work hard to ensure our ambitious housing reform agenda is working across the board with more help for renters, more help for homebuyers and more help for Australians needing a safe place for the night,” she said.