In this midst of Youth Week NSW is Youth Homelessness Matters Day, which fell on Wednesday, April 5, and a team took to local high schools to empower young people with information and support.
Tess Hamilton and Jess Daley of Pathfinders Specialist Homelessness Services decided to approach the schools as an early intervention effort to introduce themselves and so if or when a young person finds themselves confronted by the prospect of making a decision to leave home, they know where to go.
They spent time with Macintyre and Inverell High School students, delivering straight talk on sexual health, and played games to cement critical information in the teens’ minds.
Tess said there are several triggers which compel a young person to leave home, and clues if a young person is without shelter of their own.
“The biggest indicator is definitely couch-surfing, for extended periods of time, between various houses,” she said.
“So if you’re a parent, and your child’s with you, and you’ve got this young man or woman who’s staying there consistently, reluctant to go home, they can open up that conversation with them, or they can ring us to get advice as to where to go to next.”
She said key drivers which send youth out of home are unsafe, unstable environments, which may include substance abuse, physical or emotional violence or even defiance in regard to following rules.
“That’s not only just (in the home), that the community as well, or it’s school, or you’re feeling threatened or cornered, or there’s yelling,” she said, adding other contributors to youth homelessness are disability and mental illness.
The biggest indicator is definitely couch-surfing, for extended periods of time, between various houses.Tess Hamilton
Jess said misunderstanding the legally binding agreement between tenant and landlord can sometimes cause homelessness.
Tess and Jess said they hope to deliver the ‘Rent it, Keep it’ program to the years 10-12 students, with a certificate, and better grasp of tenancy responsibilities.
“And that certificate they can use at real estate (offices) as a reference to say they’ve done this course, and they understand what is involved in maintaining a tenancy, and keeping a tenancy,” Jess said.
If you feel you are at risk of leaving home, and unsure what to do, or you believe a young person in your life could be homeless and want to help, you can phone Tess and Jess via Pathfinders on 6720 8865.