Young people's experiences of homelessness

All young people have the right to live in safety and in a caring family environment, to have adequate housing and support, to have access to education and to make their own life choices.

But for some young people, their family homes are places of violence, abuse and neglect. Some are removed by child protection authorities and placed into the out-of-home care system which does not necessarily lead to safe or stable housing. Under these circumstances, they have nowhere to go.

To mark Homelessness Week last week, the Institute of Child Protection Studies (ICPS) published a visual narrative, Nowhere to go. In their own words, young people recount what led to their homelessness and how they found support and services that helped them find safety, security and happiness.

“I just left. I didn't want nothing to do with either of them because my mum didn’t stick up for me after seeing me get abused. It was really hard because I had nowhere to go.”

Their stories offer insights into how services can improve effective early intervention and offer responsive solutions to rehousing and state care. The young people who shared their stories welcomed services that help them reengage with education and link then to training and employment.

The young people described how practical and emotional support helped them transition into a more secure setting and create a better life and home where they can be safe and happy.

“When they said, ‘We advocate for the young person, we’re on the young person's side,’ I was like, ‘Oh my God. Somebody’s finally on my side and wants to fight for me!’”

Transitioning out of homelessness was not easy and did not happen quickly for most of the young people. There is much work to be done to help prevent youth homelessness and to respond more effectively. A national strategy to end youth homelessness can help achieve this aim through early intervention, rapid rehousing, education, training and employment and extended state care.

The ACU Clemente program, which runs at multiple sites across Australia, offers young people an opportunity to engage with tertiary education. Some students in the Clemente program have experienced homelessness and have had their education interrupted. Clemente helps them reach their potential through structured and supported education. The program helps young people who have previously been disengaged from school and friends to create a new path.

Read the ICPS visual narrative Nowhere to go: Young people share their experiences of homelessness.

Learn more about the Clemente program

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