Today is National Youth Homelessness Matters Day, a day which reminds us to keep focussed on working to reduce the level of youth homelessness in our community and to ensure that young people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless are well supported with a service system designed and resourced to help them. 

Every night in Australia 105,000 people are homeless and more than 40 per cent of those people are under the age of 25.

There are many reasons why young people become homeless. Violence, relationship breakdowns, poverty and substance abuse/misuse can all leave many young people feeling that they have no option but to leave their homes even if that means becoming homeless as a result.

Combatting youth homelessness and breaking the cycle of disadvantage that homelessness can generate is a crucial element of any plan aimed to reduce the numbers of people who are homeless overall. 

Ensuring that young people who are homeless have access to supports and services that enable them to secure permanent and appropriate housing should be a policy and program priority for governments at all levels.  

Whilst governments must all work together to reduce homelessness, it is not something that governments alone can "fix". The range and complexity of problems which lead to homelessness and finding solutions for them require a whole of community effort.

Governments can fund services and set policy priorities but delivery of those services and the staff and volunteers that work within those services are resources pulled from within our community. It is these people who support young people every day who are homelessness and who deserve particular acknowledgment on National Youth Homelessness Matters Day.

Unfortunately, over the past three years the Abbott-Turnbull Government has not given rising levels of homelessness or reducing the number of homeless people in Australia the priority attention it deserves and has instead cut funding for services and peak bodies like Homelessness Australia, National Shelter and Community Housing Federation of Australia who all worked to combat homelessness in Australia. 

Today is a day for all Australians to show their support for reducing the levels of young people who are homelessness by participating in National Youth Homelessness Matters Day - share your thoughts on social media with #YHMD2016.


Senator Katy Gallagher is Labor's Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness and the Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader on State and Territory Relations.