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A photo of a young man looking pensive.

What is youth homelessness?


  • On any given night, 6,000 young Victorians are spending the night without the comfort or safety of their own home, according to the 2016 Census.
  • Homelessness can affect anyone, can happen suddenly and unexpectedly.
  • It's an issue that needs support from the whole community in order to incite change.

Forms of homelessness

It’s a common misconception that homelessness is associated only with sleeping on the street. This isn’t the case. In fact, there are 3 levels of homelessness that people experience every day:

  • Primary – sleeping rough on the street or having to sleep in a car.
  • Secondary – staying at a friend’s house, moving frequently between refuges or couch surfing.
  • Tertiary – unstable accommodation, such as rooming houses or caravan parks.

What causes homelessness?

There are many circumstances that are out of a young person’s control, leaving them without a safe space to call their own. These might include:

  • family violence
  • family breakdown and/or conflict
  • abuse (physical, emotional, sexual)
  • unemployment
  • insufficient income to cover rent and the costs of living
  • difficulties getting financial assistance (Youth Allowance)
  • drug and alcohol abuse
  • mental health issues
  • the death of a parent or guardian
  • lack of support when moving into or from state care
  • overcrowding

Of those who presented at Frontyard during 2018

71.18% had NO housing, 75.16% didn’t have a job, 40.27% of young men experienced family/domestic violence, and 63.8% of young women experienced family/domestic violence.

The effect it can have on someone’s life

The impact of experiencing homelessness is far reaching and varies significantly from person to person. The circumstances that lead to a person being without a home can have lasting effects, including:

  • trauma (physical and mental)
  • poor mental health
  • alcohol and substance abuse
  • social isolation
  • poor nutrition and illness

Young people experiencing homelessness are more likely to enter the juvenile justice system. They can also be more likely to encounter homelessness long-term as an adult.

What services are available?

Homelessness is a complex issue. While accommodation and housing are crucial, this may only provide temporary relief if the underlying causes behind homelessness aren’t addressed. Services looking to stop homelessness from reoccurring include:

  • family mediation
  • drug and alcohol abuse support
  • mental health support
  • legal advice
  • health services
  • employment assistance



Our refuges offer a share-house type arrangement where young people stay for up to 6 weeks. In some instances, stays may be extended. This is on a case by case basis in consultation with a young person and their case plan.

Throughout their stay, a young person has their own support worker who works with them to find long-term accommodation.

It’s important to note that there are currently only 127 refuge beds in Victoria catering to young people — nowhere near the 6,000 beds we’d need to help every young person.

Referrals to refuges comes through housing access points.

Housing access points

Housing access points are located in main regions of Melbourne. They offer housing assistance services such as financial assistance and referrals into refuges and other types of housing.

Young people who can’t get placed into refuges or housing are set up in backpackers, cheap motels and caravan parks. This may provide a bed for the night, but with no onsite support it doesn’t help break the cycle.

Visit the DHHS website to find your local housing access points.

How can we stop homelessness?

Everyone deserves a safe and happy home. To ensure this is the case, everyone needs to do their bit.

Prevention and support

For people at risk of, or currently experiencing homelessness, prevention and quick assistance and support are key. Education about the types of support available need to be shared and easily accessed.

Connections to family need to be maintained wherever possible. We also encourage engagement with the community and support networks.

Start the change yourself

Of course, there are ways you can help. One of the quickest things you can do is start a conversation.

Awareness creates a massive impact and helps to get people involved in making a long-lasting change. Chat with family and friends, learn about it at school — then encourage others to do the same.

There are many other ways you can get involved

This includes making a donation, and taking part in events such as Sleep At The ’G.

You can learn more about making an impact on our Community involvement page.

Contact us

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