Proceeds from Vinnie’s 2019 CEO Sleep-out fund youth programmes

The St. Vincent de Paul Society has announced that a large proportion of the $150,000 raised during 2019 CEO Sleep-out will fund critical outreach programmes aimed at assisting homeless young people, and those at risk of homelessness.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society’s CEO, Ms Lara Alexander, said that by dedicating resources to youth homelessness, the Society hoped to break the cycle of homelessness and help young people who are at risk of homelessness.

“Young people are generally ill-equipped to cope with the many symptoms that lead to homelessness. At an age when young people should be gaining an education, planning a future, and developing friendships, it is a travesty that so many are facing uncertainty, which can lead to mental health issues, substance abuse, and homelessness,” Ms Alexander said.

“In 2015, a report authored by Professor Paul Flatau and supported by Swinburne University of Technology, in partnership with CSI at The University of Western Australia, Charles Sturt University, and several charities – The Cost of Youth Homelessness in Australia – Snapshot Report 1, found that:

  • Over a third (39%) of the homeless youth surveyed reported police coming to their home because of violence between parents on one or more occasions, with 14 percent experiencing police coming to their house more than 10 times;
  • The incidence of reported non-suicidal self-injury and attempted suicide was much higher among homeless youth than young jobseekers and young people generally; and
  • Fifty-two per cent of homeless youth were unemployed at the time of interview, that is, they were without work yet reported that they were looking for work and available to start work.

“The report also identified that homeless youth aged 15 to 25 are more likely to leave school early, which leaves them in a vulnerable position in terms of their entry to the workforce. The unemployment rate among homeless youth in the sample was a staggering 84 percent. Nearly one-quarter (22%) of homeless young people have never had paid employment in their lifetime. The absence of necessary skills or education was one of the main barriers to finding work.

“One of the most important conclusions of the report was that – “Targeted interventions in youth-based homelessness programs will act to end the homelessness cycle and will prevent homelessness progressing to the next generation.”

“This is why the Society is increasing its youth activity programmes, reaching out to schools, engaging with younger people, and working toward making a difference right from the start of their journey in life. Our programmes are designed to build awareness of the issues leading to homelessness. They instil resilience in young people by offering practical advice and skills to combat the symptoms of homelessness at an early stage.

“Living in the real world can sometime be challenging; but if young people are equipped with the right knowledge and truly understand the world we live in, they will make the right choices, they will overcome hurdles, and we as a society will have addressed some of the social issues we keep talking about over and over again,” Ms Alexander said.

Ms Alexander added that the St Vincent de Paul Society is increasing its outreach programme across Tasmania, and said the outstanding success of the 2019 CEO Sleep-out, supported by 57 business and community leaders, will make a real difference to the lives of many young people who are experiencing homelessness, or are at high risk of homelessness.

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