Creating a future without youth homelessness


  • April 14, 2015

     National Youth Coalition for Housing Face to Face meeting, 25 March 2015


    Representatives from each State and Territory met for the second face-to-face series of meetings for the National Youth Coalition for Housing (NYCH) in Canberra in March 2015. NYCH held two days of Council meetings in which State and Territory issues were discussed  and planning was conducted for Youth Homelessness Matters Day (YHMD) 2015. In attendance were Joanna Siejka (TAS), Michael Coffey (NSW), Sarah Jewell (ACT), Ian Gough (VIC), Adam Barnes (QLD), Nerida Ackerman (NSW), Tracey Ingram (SA),  Philippa Boldy (WA) and Chris Stone (NSW).

    NYCH members also attended a Homelessness Australia (HA) policy forum and presented to HA members on key issues of concern.

    NYCH will continue to meet via teleconference in the coming months.


    In discussing youth housing and homelessness issues in NYCH meetings, NYCH members identified five key areas to raise with Homelessness Australia.

    Need for a national youth homeless framework

    NYCH has been advocating for some time for a national youth homelessness framework to be developed. It was also discussed that none of the States or Territories have a state framework or overarching set of principles specific to youth homelessness, or at least none that are current (some states had lapsed frameworks/policy statement eg Victoria with it Youth Homelessness Action Plan 2 which was 2006-10). This is compounded by the current lack of a national youth strategy more generally, and in the majority of the States and Territories.

    NYCH also supports the development of a national homelessness framework, however is keen for a stand-alone youth framework. However such a framework might sit beside or support a broader framework.

    Developing a National youth homelessness framework will be a key activity of NYCH over the next 12 months. NYCH will consult with our networks to inform this development.

    Such a framework would involve elements such as:

    • Youth justice
    • No exits from youth justice
    • Young people on custody orders (Eg Housing guarantee)
    • Young people leaving care
    • Child protection
    • Education
    • Youth unemployment

    Young people under 16
    A common issue across the country is how best to respond to unaccompanied young people under 16 who are presenting to homelessness services. There are different responses in different states and little consistency across states in terms of policies relating to how homelessness services should respond to unaccompanied young people under 16.
    Sector Reform

    There has been significant system reform in some states in particular Tasmania, South Australia, and New South Wales. Other states have had planned reforms for some time but that hasn’t progressed. A good example is in Victoria where the Bracks labor government had the planned Homeless 2020 reforms then having lost the 2010 election their plan was replaced by the Liberal party’s  VHAP, which never fully got off the ground (with the exception of some Innovative Action Projects). This meant in Victoria there has been 8 years of planned reform but no (or little) actual reform.
    The group noted however that even in the states where there has been reform the changes has largely involved tinkering with the system and how resources are utilised as opposed to fundamentally changing how we respond to homelessness, for example reorienting the system to be truly early intervention and prevention focused.
    Peak bodies
    This is a difficult time for national peaks as several peaks have been advised their federal funding will be cut at the end of the current financial year. One of these peaks is Homelessness Australia (HA) and given HA depends on federal funding there is a clear risk to its future. It is not clear what impact the cuts to HA might have on youth homelessness in a general sense, but of course the cuts have significant implications for NYCH, given the relationship between NYCH and HA. For example there will be a challenge to maintain the momentum of Youth Homelessness Matters Day (YHMD) if HA does not continue in its current form.
    However, HA is not the only peak relevant to youth homelessness facing funding cuts and uncertain futures. National Shelter also face funding cuts and the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition has already been defunded, all of which will impact on the capacity to get a national voice on youth issues (eg as they relate to general youth issues or youth specific housing) and put pressure on state peaks to ensure they have a national agenda or at the least are across national issues.

    Youth Homelessness Matters Day 2015

    There is a real sense that YHMD is gathering momentum. YHMD2014 was very successful and NYCH is very keen to build on this success and grow it into the future. A key strategy over the last few years, and particularly last year, was to shift to a social media campaign. As part of this strategy this year we are trying something new with our campaign. We are usingThunderclap – the first crowd-speaking platform that helps people be heard by saying something together. It works by people donating their social media reach and once you reach your supporter goal, Thunderclap sends out a timed Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr post from all your supporters, creating a wave of attention.
    As noted NYCH is very keen to keep building #YHMD2015 and really develop it into a big, well known national campaign with significant reach. There was discussion of how this might be achieved/supported both in terms of the potential for reduced support from HA but also in a more general sense (ie regardless of any changes to HA).

    NYCH began the discussion about how to grow YHMD and this discussion covered ideas such as engaging with young people to design and drive the campaign, crowd funding, connecting with a pro bono marketing firm, using students, utilising sector skill, sponsorship and other fund raising opportunities. This is only the first of many discussions that will need to be had and NYCH are very keen on sector input to these discussions.
    There was an agreement that fund raising is resource intensive and there is a distinction between fund raising and marketing. There was also agreement that to grow YHMD, indeed even to maintain it at the current level it would be necessary to have a dedicated person or team involved to drive the marketing of the event, hence the discussion about engaging  a marketing firm prepared to do the work pro bono.

  • Baird Government responds to Yfoundations pre-election submission March 29, 2015

    On 19th March Yfoundations released its election agenda, a broad ranging set of recommendations for policy change to address the multiple factors involved in youth homelessness.

    The recommendations were aligned with five ‘foundations‘ to end youth homelessness. For each of the foundations key practical policy recommendations were outlined that will benefit young people and society as a whole by reducing and avoiding youth homelessness.
    Today, The Hon Gabrielle Upton MP responded to Yfoundations’ pre-election submission.

    Read – The Baird Government’s response to Yfoundations submission.


    Media contact:
    Chris Stone (Senior Policy Officer)
    (02) 8306-7909
  • Yfoundations’ response to the NSW Sexually Transmissible Infections Plan 2014-2020 December 12, 2014

    Yfoundations is pleased with the NSW’s Government commitment to improving the sexual health of people in NSW.

    Furthermore, we commend the NSW Ministry of Health for demonstrating their commitment to improving the health of our young people. The health needs required by young people are significantly different from that of adults and other groups and we are pleased that young people have been retained as a priority group within the STI Plan 2014-2020.

    Yfoundations response to the NSW STI Plan

  • Finding the Right Directions Home – Yfoundations Initial Submission to the NSW Government’s future directions for specialist homelessness services September 19, 2014

    At the announcement of GHSH in 2012, Minister Goward released a consultation paper which put forward the case for reform based around five building blocks. 

    A series of 15 regional forums were held during July and August 2012. Forums were also held with the City of Sydney Homelessness Services Interagency (18 July) and the Premier’s Council on Homelessness (29 August 2012), as well as a teleconference with Aboriginal Specialist Homelessness Services (24 August). In addition, 75 written submissions were received from peak bodies, individual SHS providers and other stakeholder. Continue reading →

  • Yfoundations submission on Social, Public and Affordable Housing Inquiry into social, public and affordable housing – March 2014 May 3, 2014

    Access to housing is a social and economic issue, as well as a children’s rights issue in Australia. Housing stability can have a significant impact on people’s lives[1] and is critical for the positive growth and development of children, families and individuals[2]. Without access to affordable and secure housing, individuals face social disadvantage and exclusion, with adverse impacts both on those directly affected and the community as a whole. Housing instability makes it harder for people to engage in paid work or study, which further reinforces their disadvantage. Continue reading →