Youth Homelessness Matters Day is observed on the third Wednesday in April, on April 19 this year, to raise awareness and public discussion of homeless young people so that there can be sustainable and innovative solutions for supporting their needs and their dreams. Did you know that over 20,000 young people in Australia (aged 12 to 24) are homeless on any given night? More than a half of 18-year-olds accessing homelessness services from 2019 to 2020 had experienced domestic and family violence. That’s why youth homelessness matters.
History of Youth Homelessness Matters Day
Youth Homelessness Matters Day (Y.H.M.D.) is a national campaign, held annually since 1990 — on the third Wednesday in April or in the middle of Youth Week — to raise awareness of youth homelessness among the wider community as well as decision-makers. Y.H.M.D. is a project of the National Youth Coalition for Housing, allowing everyone to take action and state that youth homelessness matters. According to Australia’s 2016 Census, 28,000 Australians aged 12 to 24 are homeless, making up 24% of the homeless population and 16% of the general population.
As many as one in six young people reportedly may have experienced some kind of homelessness. The vast majority of homeless young people are out of sight in shelters, in couch-surfing conditions, and sleeping in cars with their families. Generally, these youth don’t have a home because they’re escaping conflict, violence, and family breakdown. And severe overcrowding is the most common cause of their homelessness. As a consequence, many of these youth develop drug addictions and mental health problems.
The homelessness services system in Australia is underfunded and overstretched, resulting in people being turned away. And young people with addictions, mental health issues, and behavioral problems will find it harder to get shelter. It requires lots of 24/7 highly trained staff to support these young people, and most crisis services currently don’t have the funding for this level of care. Besides, youth homelessness occurs in rural or remote areas of Australia. And it can be more devastating due to lacking shelters, social housing, and support services.
Youth Homelessness Matters Day timeline
Youth Homelessness Matters Day campaign is held for the first time.
Results from the 2016 Census are available to the public this year, reporting that more than 28,000 young Australians do not have a home.
Over half of 18-year-olds who had experienced domestic and family violence seek homelessness services.
The 2021 Census is conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (A.B.S.).
Youth Homelessness Matters Day FAQs
What do homeless youth need the most?
Jeans are the most commonly requested items in homeless shelters.
Why is youth homelessness an important issue?
Homeless youth are less likely to stay engaged in schools, find jobs, and maintain friendships. Besides, they are more likely to experience poor nutrition, substance abuse, and mental health issues.
How does homelessness affect a person?
People who experience homelessness are usually at risk of infectious diseases like hepatitis A, B, and C, tuberculosis, and H.I.V./AIDS.
How to Observe Youth Homelessness Matters Day
Share the information about this Youth Homelessness Matters Day campaign on your social media or tweet about it to your local decision-maker. Or, you can also hold an online event about youth homelessness.
There is a common misconception that young people leave home because it’s what they want. They run off because they have to due to family breakdown, housing crisis, or domestic and family violence. So, break this stereotype.
Volunteer at an organization that helps homeless young people. You may want to look for more information regarding organizations that accept volunteers and donations.
5 Facts About Homelessness You Need To Know
More than 116,000 people experience it
Over 116,000 people in Australia are homeless, including the youth.
Children also experience it
Sadly, more than 15,800 children younger than 12 years don’t have a home.
Men’s life expectancy is under 50 years
Homeless men mostly sleep in the cold almost every night, causing the men living on the street for more than 10 years to have an average life expectancy of 45 to 47 years old.
Some suffer cold-related illnesses
Around 21% of the people living on the street have suffered cold-related illnesses such as hypothermia, frostbite, or trench foot.
Social housing’s 4% of all dwellings
In Australia, social housing only makes up 4% of all dwellings, and a lack of housing affordability can increase homelessness.
Why Youth Homelessness Matters Day is Important
It’s a day to break stereotypes
There are stereotypes attached to homeless people, especially the young. Through this Y.H.M.D. campaign, it’s hoped more people will know that there are reasons behind those young people leaving home. Not that they want to.
It’s to engage decision-makers
The Y.H.M.D. campaign is aimed at engaging government and corporate sectors to support specialist youth homelessness services. The decision-makers are expected to guarantee additional resources to the services.
It’s a day to spread the word
We can participate in raising awareness of this Y.H.M.D. campaign via social media. The more people know, the more possibilities for people to help support homeless youth through volunteering or donating at shelters.
Youth Homelessness Matters Day dates