Report reveals youth stuck in crisis cycles

Almost five school buses worth of young Tasmanians are homeless on any given night.

This figure comes from a striking new report into vulnerable and at-risk teenagers within the state.

Too Hard? Highly Vulnerable Teens in Tasmania was launched on Tuesday, and comes out of Anglicare's Social Research and Action Centre.

Authored by Catherine Robinson, it was collated through interviews with young people and industry workers, complemented with data and research.

As evidenced by the name of report, it focuses on the state’s youth population who have been placed in the “too hard” basket.

Most frequently, through no fault of their own, they have fallen between the cracks.

Their needs are not provided for by government and non-government agencies.

Their families are unstable, unsuitable, or non-existent.

They are left to wallow in a continuing cycle of homelessness, poverty, violence, drug abuse, and the justice system.

And cycles they are.

The report quotes Australian Bureau of Statistics figures that show 190 young people (aged 12 to 18) are homeless on any given Tasmanian night.

It shows that of the number of young people under Youth Justice supervision, 30 per cent will return with 12 months of being released.

In the report, Dr Robinson said that the current systems to deal with vulnerable youth were not only not working, but could be contributing to their vulnerability.

“It is a fundamental social injustice that young people’s intense need for care and healing is ultimately met with criminalisation and homelessness,” Dr Robinson wrote.

Speaking to Fairfax Media at the launch of the report, the Hobart-based researcher said a new suite of medium and long-term care was needed to bridge the gap.

The state government recently released its Youth At Risk strategy, which is a step in the right direction to addressing what could become an epidemic.

With Child Protection Services already a hot topic at all levels of government, especially in Tasmania, the time is ripe for services to forge a new path  – supported by governmental powers.

Young Tasmanians are the future of our state.

We need to ensure we are giving them the best start in life.

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