Nearly a quarter of the 122,494 Australians experiencing homelessness are youth aged 12 to 24 years, according to new Australian Bureau of Statistic Census figures.

There were 6000 more Australians homeless on Census night in 2021 – a jump of 5.2 per cent since the 2016 Census. This equates to one in 200 Australians experiencing homelessness.

Across Australia, 23 per cent were youth aged from 12 – 24, while more than 14 per cent were aged under 12.

In South Australia alone, the number of children and young people (0-24) experiencing homelessness rose from 2395 in 2016, to 3451 in 2021 – a jump from 38 per cent to 48 per cent. The real rate of homelessness in 2023 is expected to be much higher as relentless cost of living and housing market pressures force more Australians to seek help from homelessness agencies.

UnitingSA CEO Jenny Hall said more than 28 per cent of the people supported by UnitingSA’s homelessness services last year were aged between 12 and 24.

“As we celebrate the final days of Youth Week in 2023, the reality is hundreds of young people in South Australia are sleeping rough, couch surfing or staying in supported homeless accommodation,” Ms Hall said.

“That’s a startling fact, and an issue that needs to be immediately addressed.”

UnitingSA provides a much-needed home and mentorship to youth experiencing homelessness at its 24-Hour House in western Adelaide.

“On any given night, up to eight young people can be accommodated in the 24 hour house, but the service provides much more than just a roof over their heads,” Ms Hall said.

“We put supports in place to help them get their lives back on track.

“We also work toward reunification with their families where it is possible to safe do so, otherwise we have a space for them here until the best arrangements are found.”

Ms Hall said the average stay at the house is around four months during which time the young person gets into a routine of school, homework, and helping with chores around the house.

“The time spent in the house varies significantly depending on their needs. The ultimate aim is help to help these young people to live successfully and independently in their own home,” she said.

UnitingSA’s youth programs are State Government funded. Ms Hall said she looked forward to seeing more funds from the $97 million Federal Government Reconnect Program filter through to programs like the 24-Hour house in order for organisations like UnitingSA to support more youth.

“Having young people at risk, on the streets, is unacceptable. We need to do more to solve this issue, and give all South Australian youth the support they need to build their best life.”

For further information:
Gail Heritage,
Media, Advocacy and Communications Lead
P. 0466 419 528