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Giving young people a voice on homelessness

Yesterday I heard the powerful stories of several young people and their experiences with homelessness at a morning tea at my Subiaco office.

The tea provided an opportunity for several other government and non-government stakeholders to also hear these young people’s voices.

The young people were participants of the Home Is Where My Heart Is program, managed by Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA). This peer-mentorship program captures the reality of youth homelessness in WA and culminates in a photographic exhibition held in August.

The participants were very open in their discussion of youth homelessness and some even shared their own personal journeys with us.

Some of them said they relished the opportunity to have their voices heard at a higher level and to speak face-to-face.

This highlighted to me how important it is for organisations and decision-makers to include young people and make the time to have these kinds of conversations with them.

Earlier this year I released two key resources outlining the impact of homelessness on young children in WA, including a policy brief and literature review, which can be found in the Resources section of my website. In 2012-13, more than 6,200 WA children and young people accessed specialist homelessness services, either by themselves or as part of a family.

I would like to thank representatives from YACWA, the Department of Child Protection and Family Support, Department of Local Government and Communities and Rio Tinto’s Community Investment Fund for attending.

Jenni Perkins
Acting Commissioner for Children and Young People