The 2011 Census tells us 19,858 persons were homeless in Queensland and, of these: 27% were children under 18 years and about 40% were under 24 years of age.
Whilst there has been a decrease in overall numbers, young people continue to form a large part of the homeless picture. This can take many forms:
- a young person in school who is sleeping on friends’ couches and moving from friend to friend;
- a young person in a youth shelter who is on income support; or
- a young person who is in an apprenticeship or traineeship who is living in a tent.
Research has identified that if young people are not adequately supported when they first experience homelessness, they also have a higher chance of becoming homeless in their adult lives.
The Gold Coast is one of the faster growing regions in Queensland and has a homelessness rate comparable to Brisbane. It is not surprising to find that most homeless people are couch surfing, with nearly 10% of homeless people living in impoverished dwellings. Anecdotally we know that many young people who are homeless resort to living in tents or in cars.
Gold Coast Youth Service works with young people aged 16 to 25 years who are marginalised, at risk of homelessness or currently experiencing homelessness. Young people present with a variety of issues that have significantly impacted on their lives. Some of these include, but are not limited to the following areas:
- Lack of safe and affordable housing
- Lack of adequate financial income
- Lack of basic human rights, i.e. food, clothing, shelter, emotional support
- Lack of transport
- Lack of medical care and adequate health services
- Drug and alcohol issues
- Domestic Violence
- Family and relationship conflict; and
- Lack of employment and educational opportunities.
The Gold Coast Youth Service provides a premises where young people can find a safe and supportive environment where they can “drop-in and relax”, meet with a worker, have a meal, a shower, or a chat. Many of these young people relay stories of negative life experiences, and the lack of support and opportunities afforded to them to be able to plan and work towards their life goals.
Youth Workers provide young people with professional support, assistance and resources when discussing their varying life options and ‘weighing up’ the possible outcomes. This ‘hands-on’ approach assists young people to work towards their life-plans, and can be a deterrent for them engaging in adverse behaviours within their community.
Visit goldcoastyouthservice.com | 07 5572 0400.
The Gold Coast Project for Homeless Youth commenced in 1984 as a response to the increased number of young people experiencing homelessness here. Their aim is to break the cycle of homelessness and encourage young people to reach their full potential.
The organisation provides supported crisis accommodation at Lawson House for young people aged 16 to 18 years and supported medium term accommodation at Bannister House and Jessica Dunne Lodge for young people aged 16 to 19 years. In an average year, Gold Coast Project for Homeless Youth accommodates 160 young people. In addition, resources are stretched to provide many others with food, referrals, and assistance in finding alternative accommodation. On average, the service turns away over 150 eligible young people each year due to the house being full; with a capacity of just seven beds, Lawson House is the only crisis accommodation for young people on the Gold Coast.
In 2011, the organisation commenced a mobile support service to follow up with young people after they have left the service and assist them in making the transition to independent living.