Not such a cushy race

NT News - - NEWS - LAU­REN ROBERTS

HUN­DREDS of Ter­ri­to­ri­ans will be cheer­ing on race couches to­day as the plush ve­hi­cles com­pete to raise aware­ness about youth home­less­ness.

Angli­care NT and the City of Dar­win’s an­nual “Couch Surf­ing” event is in sup­port of Youth Home­less­ness Mat­ters Day – and the rac­ing chairs sym­bol­ise the thou­sands of young peo­ple in the NT with­out a sta­ble home.

The event is also part of the NT Youth Week fes­tiv­i­ties.

Angli­care NT chief ex­ec­u­tive Dave Pugh said youth ser­vices, schools and or­gan­i­sa­tions from Dar­win, Palmer­ston and ru­ral ar­eas would come to­gether to­day for the event. “To­gether, we hope to raise aware­ness about youth home­less­ness and the rights all young Ter­ri­to­ri­ans have to a safe and sta­ble home,” he said.

This year 16 teams of young peo­ple have dec­o­rated couches and are ready to bat­tle it out in the ac­tion-packed race.

It’s the first year the Angli­care NT youth team in Kather­ine will be tak­ing part in the race. Sis­ters Bey­once and Glo­ria Ash­ley are part of a sixmem­ber team who trav­elled to Dar­win to com­pete.

Glo­ria raced in a sim­i­lar couch surf­ing event eight years ago. “It was fun, I re­mem­ber that,” she said.

Ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Bu­reau of Sta­tis­tics, more than 5000 Ter­ri­tory kids are home­less. “We have 15 per cent of the na­tion’s youth home­less, most of whom live in se­verely over­crowded dwellings,” NT Shel­ter ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Peter McMil­lan said.

While there was a slight re­duc­tion in the pro­por­tion of young peo­ple un­der 25 ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness – from 52 per cent of to­tal home­less per­sons in 2011 to 48.6 per cent in 2016 – the num­ber re­mained dis­pro­por­tion­ately high, Mr McMil­lan said.

“We take this op­por­tu­nity to­day on Youth Home­less­ness Mat­ters Day to re­mind every­one that hous­ing is a hu­man right and we need to do more to help those who ex­pe­ri­ence home­less­ness through no fault of their own,” he said.

The event starts at 10.30am at the Civic Park Court­yard in Dar­win City

Pic­ture: KERI MEGELUS

Glo­ria Ash­ley, 19, Der­vona Thomp­son, 14, and Bey­once Ash­ley, 15, will be com­pet­ing in to­day’s an­nual couch surf­ing race in Dar­win

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