With findings from a recent survey revealing that poor family function and serious mental illness are key factors in youth (15-19 years) homelessness, Mission Australia has called for more action on the issue.
According to the Youth Mental Health and Homelessness Report, those in South Australia with a probable serious mental illness are four times more likely to spend time away from home.
State Director Noel Mundy said that there needs to be more early intervention to stop young people succumbing to the cycle of ‘couch surfing’ – staying a one place one night and somewhere else the next.
“For a lot of young people, particularly those around 14-15 years old, they can’t stay at home because of the bad things that are happening there,” he said.
“They then begin couch surfing, and some of the places they are staying at aren’t the best environments. So eventually they end up with nowhere else to stay while they can’t go home either.”
Mr Mundy said the government needs to place greater emphasis on addressing issues that lead to young people leaving home.
“There needs to be a focus on building strong family relationships and ensuring South Australian schools are equipped to identify students who may be in need of support,.
“They also need to provide early intervention before homelessness can occur.”
Mr Mundy said organisations such as the Plaza Youth Centre in Whyalla were key to preventing young people ending up homeless.