It’s an alarming statistic that young people are the fastest-growing cohort experiencing homelessness.
Homelessness is not something to wish upon anybody, but it is especially not something any young person should experience in their lives.
According to Shelter Tasmania data, nearly 50 per cent of homeless people under the age of 25 were couch surfing or living in overcrowded accommodation.
Research by Anglicare also showed 340 children between the ages of 10 and 17 presented to homelessness services for help.
Young people should be focused on their education, on studying, having fun with friends and working part time or casual jobs – they should not be stressed about ending the school day with nowhere to go.
There are many nuanced and varied reasons why anyone would find themselves homeless, often it is a domino effect of small experiences, one after the other, that snowball.
Those reasons, family breakdown, addiction, loss of income, all of those can apply to both adults and young people, but youth homelessness is still a hidden facet of our society.
The extent of youth, or adult homelessness, can never really be known, because of factors such as couch surfing.
Young people are likely to be couch surfing with friends or other family members and not report homelessness to the authorities or support services.
Homelessness is a nuanced issue but it is clear the hidden issue of youth homelessness needs specific attention.
Initiatives to identify and support youth who are at-risk of becoming homeless would help stem the increasing tide of young people entering the homeless sphere.
We all want to see our young people stay in a welcoming environment at home but that is not always possible.
An increase in youth-specific supported accommodation would be a good first step, but it’s important to break the cycle before it gets that far.
Youth voices need to be heard to ensure the correct action is taken to address this serious issue.