Home truths ex­pose a calamity

Joondalup Times - - SPECIAL REPORT: YOUTH HOMELESSNESS -

SUP­PORT­ING young peo­ple in care un­til they turn 21 will halve home­less­ness, triple ed­u­ca­tion par­tic­i­pa­tion and re­duce al­co­hol and drug de­pen­dency, says Angli­care WA Ser­vices di­rec­tor Mark Glas­son.

Mr Glas­son is lead­ing the WA cam­paign for Home Stretch, a na­tional ini­tia­tive call­ing on all state gov­ern­ments to change leg­is­la­tion to pro­tect chil­dren in State care for longer.

“What we know is that peo­ple who have been in State care with trau­ma­tised back­grounds are not equipped to live in­de­pen­dently,” he said.

“The bot­tom line is the State (Gov­ern­ment) has made the de­ci­sion these young peo­ple need to be in care out­side the fam­ily.

“The sys­tem of ser­vices needs to be dif­fer­ent, to em­power and sup­port them so they can make wise de­ci­sions. They need help with ed­u­ca­tion, ac­com­mo­da­tion, men­tal health and in­come sup­port.”

St Vin­cent de Paul So­ci­ety chief ex­ec­u­tive Su­san Rooney said pro­vid­ing three more years of care had proved suc­cess­ful in the UK, US, NZ and Canada.

Ms Rooney said at least 30 per cent of young peo­ple who ac­cessed sup­port at Vin­nies' Pas­sages hub left State care early or had been ‘ex­ited’ to home­less­ness.

She said if the Gov­ern­ment did not take care of these young peo­ple now, it would cost the com­mu­nity more in the long term.

“If we have an op­tion for young peo­ple to be sup­ported in the right way, there would be less home­less peo­ple in the state,” she said.

“We know 50 per cent of long-term home­less peo­ple have been home­less as a young per­son.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d487792

Mark Glas­son from Angli­care WA and Su­san Rooney from Vin­nies WA.

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