Young people under 16 years of age who are living independently from family and are homeless or in marginal housing, experience a range of challenges to their safety and wellbeing.
Understanding the factors that lead young people into homelessness, and their experiences while homeless, are important to ensuring the right services are in place to better prevent homelessness from occurring, and effectively support young people when it does occur.
In 2016 an estimated 2,000 people aged 18 years and under were classed as homeless in WA, with another 2,230 living in marginal housing such as caravan parks, overcrowded situations or improvised dwellings.
Often pathways to homelessness in young people start before the person’s 16th birthday.
Children and young people under the age of 16 years can experience homelessness either when living with their families or independently, often in situations where the relationship with family has broken down.
For those living independently from family, accessing services and supports is difficult due to their young age and they are often not counted in homelessness statistics.
Homelessness has a serious impact on young people’s wellbeing, including poorer physical and mental health, difficulties in attending and learning in school, and increased exposure to risk of harm, leading to poorer life outcomes.
The Young and Homeless Project was conducted in partnership with Edith Cowan University and supported by the Youth Affairs Council of WA and Youth Futures. The research phase of the project concluded in April 2018 however other consultative work is ongoing.
The key goals of the project are to raise public awareness around the experiences of homeless young people under the age of 16 years, and to develop recommendations to respond to and prevent youth homelessness.