Youth Homelessness remains a significant social issue in Australia. When young people are forced to leave home early, they find it very difficult to gain sufficient income to live independently. Family support is crucial for young people during the transition to an independent adulthood and a sustainable livelihood. When family support is weak or non-existent, young people are much more likely to experience homelessness and long-term disadvantage.
Family violence is a major issue and a major driver of young people becoming homeless. Over one third of the homelessness youth surveyed reported that violence in the home had reached the point where police had to called. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of the homeless youth surveyed had been placed in some form of out-of-home care by the time that they had turned 18.
The experience of homelessness is fraught with insecurity, a lack of safety, exposure to drugs and alcohol, more health and medical issues and the likelihood of greater contact with the criminal justice system.
Homeless young people experience a range of health issues to a much greater extent than the general population or other disadvantaged young people, who were unemployed but not homeless. Half of the homeless youth surveyed (53%) reported that they had been diagnosed, at some point in their lives by a medical practitioner, with at least one mental health condition. The incidence of self-injury and attempted suicide is much higher than the general population or other disadvantaged young people.
The costs to the Australia economy of health services associated with young people experiencing homelessness is an average of $8,505 per person per year or $355 million across all young people aged 15-24 accessing Specialist Homelessness Services. This is $6,744.00 per person per year more than for long-term unemployed youth (another key group of disadvantaged youth).
Homeless young people are much more likely to have contact with the criminal justice system than the general population or other disadvantaged young people, who are long-term unemployed but not homeless. The cost to the Australian economy is an average of $9,363 per person per year or 5391 million across all young people aged 15-24 accessing the Specialist Homelessness Service system. This is $8,242 per person per year more than for long-term unemployed youth.