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14th April, 2010 is Youth Homelessness Matters Day

On any night in Australia 105,000 people are homeless and nearly half of these are under 25.

14 April, 2010 is Youth Homelessness Matters Day. A day established to raise public awareness about youth homelessness, the factors that cause it and to work towards putting an end to youth homelessness in Australia.

45% of homeless young people identify interpersonal relationship problems including family violence and parent / adolescent conflict as the primary reason for becoming homeless according to the AIHW National SAAP Data Report, 2008. Homeless youth aren't necessarily living on the streets, in squats, under bridges or in parks, many are in youth shelters or sleeping in different friends' houses; colloquially ‘couch surfing'.

The Australian Government's current commitment is to reduce homelessness as identified in "The Road Home: A National Approach to Reducing Homelessness" and to emphasize that homelessness is "everyone's responsibility".

The new national agenda has a strong focus on rough sleeping, however research has identified that if young people are not properly supported when they first experience homelessness, they have a higher chance of becoming homeless in their adult lives. Homeless young people are often not the stereotypical street person and need appropriate support to reach their full potential as active, productive community citizens. The general public's view is often that young homeless people are run-aways and could really return home if they wanted to. In reality many young people become homeless due to family breakdown, family violence and child abuse.

Mercy Youth & Family Services operate a number of services for homeless youth including refuges, houses for young homeless mothers as well as supporting young people into accommodation in the community. Mercy Reconnect works with young people and their families who are in conflict to try and prevent family breakdown and keep young people at home. For families who would like assistance they can call 1800 800 046.

Youth Homelessness Matters Day is an important day in the fight to save our next generation of young people who find themselves without a safe and stable place to call home.

For further information please contact:

Steve Thrussell, Manager, Mercy Youth & Family Services. Tel (08) 9442 3444.