Couch surfing limbo: legal, policy and service gaps affecting young couch surfers and couch providers in Melbourne's west

22 Nov 2017

Little is known about the legal challenges these young people face due to, or because of, couch surfing. Even less is known about the experiences and challenges of the ‘couch providers’ – individuals and families who provide a place to stay for these young people.

This research sought to fill this gap in knowledge, by looking into the experiences of young people who are couch surfing and the experiences of couch providers – seeking to identify the legal, policy and service gaps for these groups and provide a way forward in addressing these issues.

To this end, a literature review was undertaken to find out what is already known about couch surfing in Australia. Sixty-two case studies from the WestJustice Couch Surfing Clinic were analysed and 30 professionals that work with young couch surfers were consulted.

The research revealed that it was a combination of structural, legal and policy issues which led to, or exacerbated, the vulnerability of young couch surfers. It also revealed a lack of community service options for couch surfers and couch providers.

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