A homeless reality

Whether the nation is experiencing an economic crisis or an economic boom, thousands of Australians experience hardship.

Homelessness is not a distant or rare issue and it affects families, adults and youth in our community.

A homeless reality will introduce you to a few people close to this national problem.

In December 2008 Kevin Rudd told the nation that homelessness in a country like Australia was simply unacceptable.

Narelle Clay, CEO of Southern Youth and Family Services and National Youth Commissioner, believes the federal governments’ white paper, The Road Home, is a step towards reducing homelessness.

“Public awareness is key to reducing homeless, along with more services and low cost accommodation.”

More than a third of Australia’s homeless are under the age of 25, that is at least 36 000 people. Double the number 20 years ago. Half will be turned away from emergency housing because services are full.

“There remain significant barriers to reducing homelessness because of the lack of adequate, affordable and secure housing and the lack of access to adequately paid, secure, full time employment for young people,” Ms Clay said.

Photo: Jacqueline Wales

Photo: Jacqueline Wales

The National Youth Commission’s reported in the Australia’s homeless youth project summary that over $1 billion in funding is needed over the next ten years to address the problem.

“Failure to act will diminish the integrity of Australia’s national core value of ‘a fair go’ for all. We are at a moment in time which will either be seen in retrospect as a watershed for change, or an opportunity lost forever,” reports the NYC.

Already thousands of people, including youth, in the Illawarra receive assistance from SYFS and the number of those in need of help is certain to rise with the economic crisis.