Department of Human Services,(2002) definition of homelessness states that homelessness is not a choice, homelessness is one of the most potent examples of disadvantage in the community and one of the most important markers of social inclusion that states homelessness can be caused by the following factors; Family violence, shortage of affordable housing, physical and mental health issues, unemployment or jobless, drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, family breakdown ,not feeling safe at home. Any one can be victim of homelessness both young and old. Australian Bureau of Statics, ( 2012) consider a person to be homeless if they do not have suitable accommodation and their current living arrangement is in a dwelling that is inadequate; has no tenure, or if their initial tenure is short and not extendable; or does not allow them to have control of, and access to, space for social relation. ABS (2012) statics shows that in a night over 100,000 Australians will be homeless, 42% people experiencing homelessness are under 24 years old and 17,845 are children under 12. 255,657 people accessed homelessness support services and nearly 7 million nights of accommodation were provided by homelessness services from 2014 – 2015. The statics show youth of 12-18years or 12-24 are homeless and are ‘Couch. The number of youths of the ages between 12-24 years who are homeless are more in the states and territories. In Since 2015 Youth homelessness an issue of concern and has remained priority of the government of Australia, irrespective of government effort to provide social support services, there is an increase in the number homeless youth in Australia. Many Researchers are interested in this topic and have given their contribution on how to address the problem of youth homelessness.
The Focus of this research will be building on youth homelessness to explore the causes and challenges of youth homelessness and how it impacts on their ability to access social, economic and health services. The report is arranged in the findings of articles in Australia that contributes on the ongoing research of youth homelessness. There is an ongoing debate about the foundation of youth homelessness. Johnson & Chamberlain (Autumn 2011) research findings argues the general believe in Australia that Mental health is the primary cause of youth homelessness. Johnson et al (Autumn 2011) dispute this notion by conducting a research study which identified family breakdown, housing crisis, substance abuse, financial problem, natural disaster and adverse child hood experience as the pathways to youth homelessness. Similar to Johnson et al (Autumn 2011) , the research findings carried out by Dr Jo Fildes Head of research and Evaluation mission Australia, (2015) highlighted family breakdown ,domestic violence, poor family relationship and stress as the risk factors that leads to youth homelessness, In addition he affirm that violence/relation and family breakdown are very important when dealing with the issue of youth homelessness because in the situation of family violence and family breakdown, young people will be helpless and will look for support services and unwilling to return home. Likewise, Wright, Attell, & Ruel (2017, p. 117) study states that youth homelessness is not self-willing but factors like family violence, abuse, child protection, unemployment, being kicked out, unstable residence and financial crisis are responsible for homelessness in young people. With the ongoing discussion it is clear that several factors are responsible for youth homelessness.
Homelessness have negative social economic impact on the life of the youths. Homeless young people are experiencing high rate of Mental illness and Psychological distress Rickwood, Rapheal & Pilgrim (Oct 2011), Homeless youths go through depression and anxiety especially with youth 18-25years. Unlike Richwood et al (2014) , Crawford, Yamazaki, Franke, Amanatidis, Ravulo, Steinbeck, Ritchie & Torvaldsen (2014) indicate homeless youth go through hunger, food insecurity and as a result they have high nutritional need though been supported by specialist homeless services. Moreover, homeless youth are marginalized especially when accessing social and health services and are experiencing Poverty due to insufficient welfare payment while high cost fresh foods are reason for food insecurity and poor nutrition. According to Australian human right commission 2008 as cited by Vera Llyord (2014, p.246), homeless youths are not allowed to partake in recreational, economic and cultural activities Crawford et al (2014) states that Homeless youth when compared to non- homeless are exposed to drugs, alcohol and other substances, Doroshenko, Hatchette, Halperin, MacDonald, & Graham (2012) identify Homeless youth suffer from poor health due to poor living condition and not able to access health services. They remain unemployed, unable to make progress in education and are vulnerable to chronic ill-health (Vera Lloyd 2014) .Employment barrier is associated with family disconnection inability to access job due bias from the general public, In addition Vera Llyod, (2014) homeless youth are victims of criminal justice from offences of homelessness on the other hand McNamara (2015, p. 217-238) highlight that refugee and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer) face racism, discrimination, social isolation, family issues and traumatic experiences and are unable to access support service. Young girls experiencing homelessness are victims of sextual abuse sometimes end up with sextually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy. Different from Mcnamara, (2015), Muir-Cochrane, Oster, Drummond, Fereday, Darbyshire& Philip, (Oct 210) states that homeless young people living with Mental health are unable to manage psychiatric medication due to security and unstable nature of their lives. They also face difficulties when accessing mental health service due to accommodation instability, lack of permanent address makes it difficult to link them to Mental health services and other social services. To respond to the challenges discussed above I recommend a holistic approach, government and family working together to address the issue. There were gaps identified in the articles used to build this literature, Johnson & Chris, (Autumn 2011) research was unable to explain the link between environmental factors and mental illness. Crawford et al 2014, used focus group to address sensitive issue this might not give accurate result because some participants pressured to give same respond. Funding was also identified as the limitation to the progress of the research.
Considering the impact of homelessness social, economic and mental wellbeing of youths there is need for continuous effort in adopting a holistic approach with the government families and community working to together. Early intervention measure, Better support from family and communities support services (Victoria. Dept. of Human Services, Victoria. Dept. of Planning and Community Development, Victoria. Dept. of Education and Early Childhood Development, & Victoria Police, 2010) greater inter-agency collaboration, enabling access to social and mental health services, good understanding of the culture of youth. McNamara (2015, p. 217-238). Understanding the implication of family violence, unemployment, child abuse and neglect, mental health issues leading to homelessness would establishes potential step in addressing youth homelessness. (Doroshenko et al., 2012) suggest a change of community attitudes towards homeless youths and also allowing their voices to be heard. To improve on youth homelessness Dr Jo Fildes, (2015) recommend to early identify youths who are at risk of homelessness and youth specialist service should be readily accessible by homeless youths in rural, regional and remote areas. Rickwood et al, (Oct 2011) suggest, understanding youth homelessness and the impact on the mental wellbeing of young people will require urgent attention which if not properly managed will interfere with their development into adult hood.
Youth homelessness remain a major area of concern by the Australian government with the aim of improving on the social and mental wellbeing of this vulnerable groups. To achieve this goal government, families and community at large have to work in close collaboration. This young people need support from both parents and the community to build their self-image gain independence. All forms of discrimination and stigmatisation should be eliminated to enable homeless youths to access social and and mental health Service at all time.
Victoria. Dept. of Human Services, Victoria. Dept. of Planning and Community Development, Victoria. Dept. of Education and Early Childhood Development, & Victoria Police. (2010). Positive pathways for Victoria’s vulnerable young people: A policy framework to support vulnerable youth. Dept of Human Services, Melbourne.
McNamara, P. (2015). Young People at Risk of Lifelong Poverty: Youth Homelessness in Australia. In E. Fernandez, A. Zeira, T. Vecchiato, & C. Canali (Eds.), Theoretical and Empirical Insights into Child and Family Poverty (pp. 217-238). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-17506-5_14
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Wright, E., Attell, B., & Ruel, E. (2017). Social Support Networks and the Mental Health of Runaway and Homeless Youth. Social Sciences, 6(4), 117. doi:10.3390/socsci6040117
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Llyod, V. (2014). Community Services Intervention: An Introduction to Direct Practice. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
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