Creating a future without youth homelessness

Policy position papers

  • Good Practice Guidelines for working with Unaccompanied Children 12 – 15 years accessing Specialist Homelessness Services August 8, 2017

    Through various discussions and consultations with the membership of Yfoundations and the Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) sector, a need was identified for greater consistency, transparency and accountability across services working with and supporting unaccompanied children 12 – 15 years of age.

    In March 2016, Yfoundations senior project officer Kiera Talon initiated consultations with the SHS sector to gain a broader perspective and understanding of what services required to assist in informing internal policies and procedures, so that best practice could be consistently achieved and shared. The Guidelines recognise the existing high standard of work taking place in the SHS sector and aim to record and publicise this, as well as build on this to ensure consistency and excellence in service provision.

    • The Guidelines are a companion resource to support the following Family and Community Services (FACS) documents:
    • Draft protocol for responding to unaccompanied children and young people 12– 15 years of age who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
    • Unaccompanied Children and Young People 12–15 Years Accessing Specialist Homelessness Services Policy
    • Homeless Youth Assistance Program Service Delivery Framework
    • Specialist Homelessness Services Practice Guidelines
    • Specialist Homeless Services Case Management Resource Kit
    • The Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (the Act)

    The Guidelines will continue to be reviewed and updated as required in response to changing legislation, policies and service delivery requirements. Any changes will be carried out in consultation with FACS and SHS supporting unaccompanied children 12 – 15 years.


    Download the Good Practice Guidelines for working with Unaccompanied Children 12 – 15 years accessing Specialist Homelessness Services here.

  • Skills to Pay the Bills – Education and Employment Foundation Paper May 10, 2017

    A young person experiencing homelessness is more likely to have better outcomes when they have access to, and engagement with, education and employment opportunities. This paper uses survey and national data to demonstrate that young people experiencing homelessness have poorer education and employment outcomes and that more needs to be done to improve outcomes for young people experiencing homelessness.

    This paper uses survey data of 717 young peoples’ experience gathered by Yfoundations during February and March 2017. It examines the education and employment opportunities and outcomes, of young people experiencing homelessness who are engaged with Special Homelessness Services (SHS). What is not possible within the scope of this paper is to identify outcomes for those who are unable to access services, and more needs to be done in this space. Yfoundations strongly recommends a double investment in a suite of prevention/early intervention and crisis responses now, and the urgent need for local strategy and a national plan, to reduce costs of homelessness into the future.

    Download Skills to Pay the Bills here.

  • Beyond ‘Sexting’: Consent and Harm Minimization in Digital Sexual Cultures October 30, 2016

    This report, prepared by Yfoundations Youth Health Sector Support officer Jessie Hunt explores young people’s engagements with digital technologies in their friendships, sexual and romantic relationships.

    Young peoples’ engagement in the practice of ‘sexting’, or sending sexually suggestive or explicit images via digital technology, has been a site of concern for parents, educators and police since the term was first coined in 2005. Over the past decade, government-sponsored campaigns, curriculum resources and lesson plans have sought to discourage young people from engaging in ‘sexting’. These resources take what we might call an ‘abstinence-only’ approach, aiming to discourage or ‘tackle’ young people’s sexting. Despite the wide distribution of these resources over the past five years, the practice of ‘sexting’ amongst young people has not been curbed—in fact, sexting has been absorbed into other facets of young people’s “digital sexual cultures”—including hook-up and dating applications, blogging and social networking sites. Resources that address ‘sexting’ no longer map successfully onto young people’s actual experiences of digital sexual cultures.

    This paper works with academic understandings of the role and function of ‘sexting’ in the broader context of youth digital sexual cultures. It considers how youth workers, teachers and others working with young people can engage in sex positive digital sex education: positively with young people about their digital sexual cultures without shame or judgment, whilst emphasizing vital messages about respect, consent and boundaries. This paper also includes a set of adapted principles for applying harm reduction to digital sex education, as well as a sample workshop for engaging young people with these issues.

    Download Beyond ‘Sexting’: Consent and Harm Minimization in Digital Sexual Cultures

  • Yfoundations Submission to the Targeted Early Intervention Reforms November 3, 2015

    Prevention and early intervention programs are vital to improving the outcomes of children and young people in Australia. The benefits of prevention and early intervention programs and services was clearly demonstrated in the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth report1 accompanying the TEI consultation paper.

    Children and young people are highly represented among the homeless population.2 Homelessness during the early years, even when experienced for a short period, increases the risk of housing instability or chronic homelessness in adulthood. To mitigate this risk, it is vital we have a service system that can identify and respond to young people before they transition onto a protracted trajectory of homelessness, which once they’ve begun may be hard to break.

    However additional strategies are also needed to address demand factors arising from systemic socio-economic disadvantage. Intergenerational poverty is a reality for many families, with services supporting second and third generations of young people whose families have either been reliant on the public housing system or experienced homelessness at some point.3 Effective poverty alleviation and prevention measures are also needed including raising income support payments and addressing low youth wages and high youth unemployment levels.

    Yfoundations commends the NSW Government in its commitment to strengthening prevention and early intervention programs for children, young people and families. This reform provides a significant opportunity to improve the service system that is supporting young people experiencing, or at risk of homelessness in NSW. We are mindful of the recent Going Home Staying Home (GHSH) reform and the consequential damages caused to the Specialist Homelessness Service (SHS) Sector as a result of poor planning, poor communication and lack of sector consultation throughout the duration of the reform. Significant workforce skill and expertise were lost as a consequence of the reform process. With this in mind, we urge FACS to consider the feedback provided by the peak agencies (DV NSW, Homelessness NSW and Yfoundations), notably concerning issues around timeframes, tendering processes, communication and information sharing and change management. We are hopeful that by drawing upon GHSH, FACS will follow a more strengths based approach throughout the reform process.

    Download paper

  • Policy Position Paper – Youth Health and Wellness April 23, 2015

    Children and young people are living, learning and negotiating transitions into adulthood in an increasingly complex and challenging world. Young people have significant opportunities and choice available to them, but also unprecedented uncertainty and risk. Successful transition into independence requires resilience, emotional intelligence and positive social and emotional health.

    Wellbeing during childhood and adolescence is the foundation for good health throughout adult life, and has significant influence on adult life satisfaction. Historically, education and intellectual development were purported to be the most important predictors of adult life satisfaction. More recently however, it has been noted that the emotional health of a young person is a powerful determinant of adult life satisfaction. 

    Download paper.