New report reveals overlap between homelessness, child protection and youth justice involvement

The report, Vulnerable young people: Interactions across homelessness, youth justice and child protection: 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2015, shows that of the 187,500 children and young people who accessed specialist homelessness services over the four years to 2014–15, almost 12,000 also received child protection services, over 5,100 were under youth justice supervision, and 590 were involved in all three sectors.

'Compared with young people who accessed homelessness services only, young people involved with either or both of these additional sectors were more likely to report having substance use and mental health issues, identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and require more—and lengthier—periods of homelessness support,' said AIHW spokesperson Anna Ritson.

The report reveals the different circumstances and challenges facing each of these groups.

'Compared with those who only accessed homelessness services, young people involved in all three sectors were more likely to experience multiple episodes of homelessness, and to have mental health issues,' Ms Ritson said.

Those who had received child protection services were more likely to experience domestic and family violence, but were also more likely to be in stable housing following support from specialist homelessness services.

When looking at the cohort who came into contact with both homelessness services and the youth justice system, a particularly vulnerable group was revealed.

'About one-third of this group experienced substance use issues—almost 5 times the rate of those who sought only homelessness support.  This cohort was also more likely to seek homelessness support due to a lack of family or community support, and more likely to be sleeping rough, even after receiving homelessness support.'

'This report reinforces previous research findings that those who experience multiple, cross-sector services in the specialist homelessness, child protection or youth justice service areas are a particularly vulnerable group. It also provides a range of further insights into their circumstances, as well as the types of support they need,' Ms Ritson said.

Canberra, 9 December 2016 

Further information: Anna Ritson, AIHW, Tel. 02 6244 1293. mob. 0418 271 395