Early intervention key to preventing youth homelessness

Geraldine Crisp, Coordinator, Counselling and Support Services North/North West; Tim Keogh, Youth Worker; Sam Shand, Counsellor and Youth Worker.

For some people, homelessness is an isolated event it happens once and for a short time. For others, homelessness is part of a chaotic and uncertain life of poverty and disadvantage. These people tend to cycle in and out of homelessness and when they do find housing, it tends to be short-term and insecure.

Recent data shows that in Tasmania 411 young people are homeless1. The full extent of youth homelessness researchers and experts say, is hard to capture in official reports and data collection. At Relationships Australia Tasmania (RA Tas) we believe early intervention is key to overcoming this crisis.

The Reconnect Program is a National Commonwealth Government funded Program aimed at supporting young people (aged 12 – 18 years) to re-engage with education and training as well as family and community. The core aim behind the initiative is to reduce the homelessness risk for young people. In supporting young people to stay connected with education opportunities along with re-building relationships with their family, the risk of disconnection from their community is reduced.

For young people, reducing their risk of homelessness occurs when they have access to stable and affordable housing and have the relevant skills to connect and communicate with their community, friends and family. Without communication and connection, young people are at a high risk of experiencing long-term homelessness, unemployment, loneliness and/or engaging in illegal activities.

Reconnect advocates on behalf of the young person, with education facilities, family and their local community to ensure they have the opportunity to build and develop the life skills and family and community connections required to remain in secure and safe housing.

The team works hard to ensure young people can easily access the support they need, when they need it.

For the Reconnect Team, working with extended families and supporting parents continues to be an important part of the early intervention work that they do. The team regularly attends and coordinates events within the community, raising awareness and educating young people and their parents on the importance of communication and self-care.

The team works hard to ensure young people can easily access the support they need, when they need it. Reconnect provides young people with the space and opportunity to reconnect with education and training, ensuring they don’t become part of the often chaotic and uncertain cycle of homelessness.

RA Tas is a client-centred organisation and internally we place great emphasis on our service design and delivery.

  1. Department of Human Services (2016). Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2016. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.