Did you know that every night an estimated 28,000 young Australians between 12-25 are homeless? In most cases, these young people have left home to escape family violence, child abuse and family breakdown.
Wednesday 18 April was Youth Homelessness Matters Day, a campaign to raise awareness and put the spotlight on young people at risk of homelessness or who are experiencing homelessness.
We’ve been supporting people experiencing homelessness since 1989 when our work began with one program in Wangaratta.
Today , we are the leading youth homelessness agency in Wodonga and we run a Youth Refuge proving emergency accommodation, helps young people get back on track and either get back home or learn the skills to live on their own and secure permanent accommodation.
In 2016-17 our youth refuge supported 27 young people.
We also provide Out of Home Care to about 25 young people across north-east Victoria who cannot live with their families or in foster or kinship care and then Leaving Care support and mentoring to those young people when they leave the State Care system upon turning 18.
Unfortunately, young people who are leaving the State Care system are among those at greatest risk of homelessness.
Surveys by the CREATE Foundation and Care Leavers Australia Network found:
· 35% were homeless in the first year of leaving care
· 46% of boys were involved in the juvenile justice system
· 29% were unemployed
· 41% were pregnant during their adolescence
We join the Home Stretch campaign in calling for all state and federal governments to extend the leaving care age from 18 to 21.
The United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand and Canada have extended Leaving Care to an optional 21 years.
The only state or territory to have so far pledged to raise the leaving care age to 21 is Tasmania.
What can you do to help?
· Join the national campaign at thehomestretch.org.au to extend the leaving care age
· Donate to support our Leaving Care work: site.site.junction.org.au/campaigns/support-programs-change-lives
· Become a Leaving Care mentor: visit site.site.junction.org.au/volunteer-with-us, phone 02 6043 7400 or drop into our office at 9/155 Melbourne Road Wodonga to collect some information.