The opening of the 2015 Home Is Where My Heart Is photography exhibition last night was a celebration of how the arts can help make a difference in the lives of young people.
I am a proud supporter of Home Is Where My Heart Is, an innovative project coordinated by the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA). This project partners young people who have experienced homelessness with photographers to create powerful images to help raise awareness of the serious issue of youth homelessness.
Children and young people who experience homelessness are vulnerable and it is vital that we do all that we can to support them.
Last month I had the privilege of spending some time with some of the young people involved in this project and talking with them about their experiences.
These articulate young people were very open in their discussions and told me that they relished the opportunity to have their voices heard. They spoke about how they loved the theme of Home Is Where My Heart Is – that the idea of home is not just a building, but any place where you have people around you.
The process of working with a photography mentor helped them build confidence and they were incredibly appreciative of the strong support they received from their mentors. The young people I met also spoke about how photography had helped them to show how their life was, how it is now and where they are going.
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. A significant portion of these were Aboriginal children and young people.
Earlier this year, I commissioned a literature review on children who are homeless with their families, to better understand the issues affecting the wellbeing of children and young people who are homeless. This review, together with a policy brief on homelessness I released in March, are new resources aimed to help better inform policy makers of the underlying issues surrounding homelessness.
The Home Is Where My Heart Is exhibition runs until 14 August at 108 St Georges Terrace (South32 Tower), Perth. Entry is free.
My congratulations to all of the young people involved and my thanks to YACWA for their coordination of an outstanding project.
Acting Commissioner for Children and Young People