Writing about their experiences: Illawarra youth

Two years ago, Phwoar! Youth Matters, a magazine written by and for homeless youth was established as part of a University of Western Sydney academic research project. The university then partnered up with the Southern Youth and Family Services (SYFS) to find youth who were enthusiastic about producing a magazine.

Funds for this project are now due to cease but the Phwoar team has hopes of finding a new source of sponsorship to continue the magazine.

Sandra Pires of Why documentaries has been a key player in this project, and last week she spoke to Crossfire about the project and its achievements.

Emma is 18 and a client of the SYFS. She has been a contributor and editor to this magazine and is confident about her future writing career and wants to be a journalist.

Emma spoke to Crossfire about what the magazine has meant for her.

Trent is another member of the Phwoar team. He has a passion for film and an interest in design and he spends his time laying out the magazine, the images and tweeking the overall design. Trent spoke to Crossfire about his interests and what he gets out of working on this magazine.

Keep listening to Crossfire for followup interviews about Illawarra homelessness and Phwoar! Youth Matters magazine.

For more information about the magazine or sponsorship for the magazine contact Why Documentaries at:



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.

Illawarra homeless still an issue

Photo: Jacqueline Wales

Photo: Jacqueline Wales

Narelle Clay, CEO of Southern Youth and Family Services, spoke to Crossfire in December 2008 after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced The Road Home, an initiative to decrease the nations homeless population by the year 2020.

More than 100 000 Australians sleep without secure housing.

Narelle Clay joined Crossfire to discuss the on-going problems and whether the economic down turn has meant more people are asking for help.

For more information on where to find assistance visit the Southern Youth and Family Services website.