ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Youth Homelessness Matters

10 April 2013

On Wednesday 10 April Susan Helyar, Director of the ACT Council of Social Service, and other like-minded people in Canberra and across Australia, are giving up their bed for the night in recognition of Youth Homelessness Matters Day. 

“One night of discomfort is nothing like being homeless. But I am pleased to use my role as one of the Canberra Ambassadors for Youth Homelessness Matters Day to raise awareness about young people who do not have a home to call their own,” Susan Helyar said.

She explained that, “On Wednesday night I am getting together with other concerned mothers, and we will be sleeping out on my porch. Other people across Australia are going to sleep on their couch or doss down at a friend’s place – in solidarity with the tens of thousands of young people who do that every night.”

The 2011 Census estimated that 1785 people in Canberra don’t have a home to call their own. 754 of these people are under 24 years old. 

Almost half of the young people who are homeless say interpersonal relationship problems including family violence and parent/adolescent conflict are the primary reason for becoming homeless. The next most common reasons are accommodation issues (18 per cent) such as being evicted or unable to find suitable accommodation, and financial reasons (14 per cent) such as being unable to pay rent or other financial difficulty.

Ms Helyar added, “The good news is that we can prevent homelessness by supporting young people to maintain positive relationships with their families and reducing overcrowding in family homes. If young people can’t live with their family, then we can prevent a downward spiral into homelessness by providing options for stable housing, supporting them to stay in school, encouraging them to develop their talents and enabling them to contribute to their community.

“With good support and affordable accommodation young people who have been homeless can get on their feet and stay on track to continue with their education and get work.

“Youth Homelessness services around Canberra are working hard to ensure young people have a stable, affordable home and provide support and advocacy so young people who experience homelessness can get on their feet and participate in education, work and community life.

“But they need everyone to understand that youth homelessness matters and we need to do more to fix this problem. So on Wednesday night, I’ll be out there with the possums and the spiders, and a few of my friends, getting a taste of what we need to fix.”

For more information or comment please contact
Susan Helyar, Director, on 0448 791 987.