Homelessness among the youth has been a problem for many years in Australia, and it’s now turning into a crisis. According to the census conducted in 2016, there were more than 37,000 homeless people in New South Wales alone. Of this 37,000, 9,000 of them were children, and it’s only getting worse. Many of these children are born into homes with domestic abuse issues and face the very real chance of living the rest of their lives without a permanent roof over their heads.
Obstacles Faced by Homeless Youth
Although the new Premier of New South Wales has made reducing youth homelessness one of her 12 most important priorities, there hasn’t been much progress since her appointment in January of 2017. Homelessness among Australian youth continues to grow because the issues keeping them homeless are not being addressed. It’s hard to get a job when you have no permanent address, for starters.
Even acquiring state benefits like free healthcare is hard to do without a permanent address. If homeless youth do manage to find jobs, what rental references or job history are they supposed to provide? Most of these young people don’t even have licenses, much less an automobile. They don’t have the money to pay for the driving lessons or tests in the first place.
The Root of the Problem
Growing up in an unstable environment is the most common cause of homelessness among Australian youth. Broken homes caused by alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic abuse, separation and divorce cause psychological problems in youth that are hard to overcome. Society should hardly expect underprivileged youth such as these to thrive and prosper without offering them the opportunities to do so.
The Homeless Youth Assistance Program doesn’t get adequate funding to help enough young people climb out of poverty and homelessness. Likewise, foster care services are simply not available for most who need them. Even if they are placed with foster parents, they will often change foster families multiple times. By this time, all of the instability has produced an unstable mind, and homelessness is not far away for most.
Unless shelter and food are finally recognized as basic human rights, the problem will probably only get worse. Current government programs that are in place are simply not enough to significantly lower the number of homeless youth in Australia.