May 2015: The limited number of affordable housing options for young people is a significant issue in Australia’s current economic and social climate. Young people are increasingly finding it more and more difficult to locate housing that is within their budget and within geographical areas that provide easy access to their workplaces, places of education, their communities and friends. This, in turn, has a flow on effect on young peoples abilities to maintain work and study and save for future housing or other projects.
The majority of older Australians, if given the choice, would prefer to age at home, rather than move into residential facilities or centres, and often this means remaining in their family home which previously housed an entire family and now houses an individual or a couple. Many older Australians and Australians with disabilities may, at some point, have to make the decision to engage with privately paid services or services funded by the government in order to remain living in their own homes.
This policy paper will address the issues of housing that effect these two groups by proposing an alternative option for affordable housing for young people, based on an already existing international and domestic model of shared housing, known as ‘Homeshare’.
Below are the commitments we have achieved from the Baird Government on the 9 vital youth issues in our 2015 election agenda.
Prevention & Early Intervention Services:
Commit to increase the Child, Youth and Family Support program budget by $52 million.
74 Youth Action members lobbied their local candidates, and we received support from many politicians who have since been elected to the NSW Parliament.
The Government did not commit to increasing funding for the Child, Youth and Family Support program budget.
We will continue to campaign to highlight the amazing work that youth services and youth workers do, and push for a commitment from government for an increase in funding.
Commit to improving housing affordability for young people.
The Government has pledged to set up a $1 billion fund for social and affordable housing and $20 million for a Social Housing Community Improvement Fund. Further details on these plans are still needed, but this is a promising sign.
Because the government has not released details on this plan, Youth Action NSW will continue to campaign to hold them accountable, ensuring that the government makes a tangible impact on housing affordability.
Domestic & Family Violence:
Respond to the findings of the Youth Action & White Ribbon Foundation’s research on youth attitudes to violence.
WIN: The Government announced a significant plan to eliminate domestic and family violence and created a new Ministerial Portfolio devoted to this issue.
In June 2015, the Government announced the inclusion of Domestic & Family Violence into the mandatory NSW 7–10 Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) syllabus. Youth Action continues to advocate for the interests of young people in the process.
Fund training for rural youth workers to enable them to identify and work with young people on Mental Health issues, and to assist them to better understanding referral pathways.
WIN: As a direct result of our campaign, the Government pledged $250,000 for youth mental health first aid training in NSW. The training will develop the skills of youth workers, particularly those in rural and regional areas, to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health problems in young people and respond effectively.
This training will be rolled out over the next 4 months in all areas of the state, so stay tuned to announcements on how you can access this free training!
Apprenticeships and Traineeships:
Funding for the expansion of the Sydney Alliance Working Start program – which links disadvantaged young people into local apprenticeships.
The Sydney Alliance Working Start program was not funded by the NSW Government. However, the Government has recognised the crisis in youth unemployment, and has committed to give scholarships to 200,000 disadvantaged youth to undertake industry apprenticeships and traineeships. The Government has also committed to providing $25 million for 25,000 scholarships for students to take on traineeships and apprenticeships in technology-based industries.
We will continue to work with government to ensure that support is provided to apprentices and trainees, not just before they get a job, but during the first 6 months of them starting work.
Fund a pilot of Justice Reinvestment in Bourke.
The Government has committed to funding a plan to develop a pilot Justice Reinvestment program in Bourke run by Just Reinvest NSW.
However, details as to the nature of this funding have not yet been forthcoming and so it is important to hold the Government to their election promise.
Commit to an independent review of School Suspension and Discipline Policy and Practice within the first 100 days of forming government.
No mention was made of the school suspension by the Government during the election campaign, but Youth Action is committed to pressing for an independent review of School Suspension and Discipline Policy and Practice.
Increase youth workers in schools through the Student Support Officer programs and through better linkages between schools and youth services.
WIN: Within its $150 million ‘Supported students, successful students’ funding package, the Coalition has devoted $51.5 million of flexible funding to respond to issues such as cyber safety or bullying. This funding is equivalent to an additional 200 Student Support Officers.
Alcohol and Other Drugs:
Develop comprehensive alcohol education programs for young people aged 15-17.
The Government has not addressed Youth Action’s recommendation that the Government develop a comprehensive alcohol education program for young people. Youth Action will continue to press the Government on this subject.
You can download the comprehensive election agenda below.
August 2012: Young people aged 12 to 24 have the highest rate of homelessness of any group in NSW with 39% of the state’s homeless population under the age of 25. While some are rough sleepers, much youth homelessness constitutes “couch surfing”, living in boarding houses or cycling through emergency accommodation.
Family conflict, violence, mental illness, substance abuse and financial stress are all common causes of youth homelessness. The highest rates of youth homelessness exist among Indigenous and refugee populations. Young people leaving out-of-home care and young people leaving the juvenile justice system are also at particular risk. Homelessness has a severe impact on children and young people, and can contribute to lifelong disadvantage.
When it comes to accessing housing generally, young people face barriers and discrimination. High rental costs, low incomes, insecure share housing, and the lack of affordable housing and public housing stock all make independent living a challenge for many young people.
10, 587 young people were homeless in NSW on census night 2006. Of this number, 20% were in boarding houses, 19% in supported accommodation, 40% residing with friends and relatives and 13% living in improvised dwellings or sleeping rough. Under the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection, 52% per cent of users of specialist homelessness services for the December 2011 quarter were aged under 25.