HBNC programs tackling youth homelessness

THE Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre says positive steps are being taken to address youth homelessness on the Fraser Coast.

monochrome photo of a homeless man
Photo by Alvin Decena on Pexels.com

The centre says programs like Reconnect, which works with young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and Our Voice were turning lives around.

Our Voice is a 10-week course providing opportunities, training and employment pathways for youth.

Reconnect Youth Centre Coordinator Melissa Lay made the comments after the release of recent data suggesting the number of young Fraser Coast residents who experienced homelessness had climbed by almost 8 per cent since 2019.

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The Fraser Coast Youth Homelessness Survey 2020 results revealed that 13 per cent of Fraser Coast youth have been homeless at some point.

But the good news, according to Ms Lay, was that all participants in the most recent Our Voice round had secured employment. A new round is already underway.

The survey captured feedback from 1,107 local young people – about 8.7 per cent of the region’s youth, based on 2018 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data.

Of the young people who reported experiencing homelessness, 14 said they were currently homeless, 26 had been homeless within the last six months and 20 had been homeless in the last year.

A total of 86 young people reported being homeless more than 12 months ago.

Homelessness could include couch surfing or being without a safe place to stay.

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The survey found some 14 per cent of young Fraser Coast residents reported feeling unsafe at home, while 13.6 per cent said they had run away from home at some stage.

Of those who felt unsafe, 24.79 per cent said fighting between siblings made their living situation difficult. A total of 17.65 per cent lived with domestic violence and 5.46 per cent did not have safe accommodation.

Of the youth who reported running away from home, 69.13 per cent had run away for one to six days, 4.03 per cent for one to two weeks and 5.37 per cent for three to four weeks.

Just under 21.5 per cent had run away for one month or more.

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Meanwhile, people wanting to make a difference in the lives of Fraser Coast school students are being urged to contact the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre.

The centre is currently looking for volunteer Youth Mentors.

The mentoring program supports young people within the school system (children aged 7-17 years) who are experiencing difficulty interacting, participating and contributing to the community in positive, constructive and respectful ways.

You can phone 4194 3000, email youthmentoringhb@hbnc.com.au or click here for more information.

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