A report released yesterday by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare highlighted the continuing chronic issue of youth homelessness and the importance of specialist homelessness services, the CEO of Pathfinders, Alan Brennan, said.
Pathfinders, a not-for-profit agency, runs a number of refuges, crisis accommodation and youth services for families and children in the New England and North West, and supported more than 150 people through the Armidale Youth Refuge and 470 people through the Inverell and Glen Innes service, mostly women and children.
“The report shows that an alarming 48.8% of people who accessed or needed support because of homelessness were under 24,” Mr Brennan said.
“Aboriginal people continue to be over-represented with more than a quarter of all clients coming from this community.
“The report notes that those people who remain homeless following support are declining, highlighting the importance of providing front line services to prevent long-term homelessness, like Pathfinders’ Specialist Homelessness Services, the Inverell Women’s Refuge, Family Referral Service and the Armidale Youth Refuge.
Mr Brennan said the report noted that one in five people who reported sleeping rough were sleeping in their car.
“We see this every day. Families who are struggling because of housing issues or who are escaping domestic violence often find the only place they can sleep safely is in their car. By the time they come to us they have spent time couch surfing, living in a park or their car and have nowhere else to go.
“As a consequence finding work, going to school or continuing education becomes increasingly problematic, creating a cycle that is hard to break.”
Mr Brennan said that the services offered by Pathfinders gave comfort and security to families and children but these were limited and more work needs to be done.
“The further away from the metropolitan cities you are the greater the demand for clients who need short-term or emergency accommodation.”
For further information or to arrange a media interview with Alan Brennan please call 0429 371 489.