BATHURST has not been spared by a skyrocketing rate of youth homelessness across Australia, with Veritas House helping more than 150 young people every year.
Wednesday is national Youth Homelessness Matters Day (YHMD) and Veritas House is calling on residents to mark the occasion by recognising that youth homelessness is also a problem in regional cities.
Latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal that ore than 28,000 young Australians aged 12-25 are experiencing homelessness every night.
The data also revealed youth homelessness in NSW has increased by 92 per cent since 2011, impacting services like Veritas House which assist more than 150 young people in Bathurst each year.
Veritas House CEO Jody Pearce said most young people who found themselves without a home were escpaing conflict and violence.
It is easy to assume it doesn’t exist in a town like Bathurst, but that is not the case.Veritas CEO Jody Pearce
“A common misconception is that young people leave home because they want to or because they want more freedom to live without rules and restrictions, but we know that this is simply not true for the vast majority of local young people we have supported over the past 35 years,” Ms Pearce said.
“Some 70 per cent of young people experiencing homelessness are escaping a negative home environment, which often includes an abusive, violent or broken home and most are hidden from view through couch surfing and sleeping in cars. So it is easy to assume it doesn’t exist in a town like Bathurst, but that is not the case.”
Ms Pearce said YHMD was a chance to make people aware of how to support a young person who is experiencing homelessness.
“Youth homelessness needs a strategic approach at a national level to ensure we can support young people at every stage, from early intervention to crisis support,” she said.
“However, at a local level, we’re encouraging Bathurst residents to make themselves aware of local services like Veritas, so that any young person experiencing or at risk of homelessness can be connected to the services and supports they need.”
If you or someone you know needs help, phone Veritas House on 6332 3882 during business hours, 0407 188 877 after hours, or Link2Home on 1800 152 152.
Veritas House is one of the region’s largest providers of youth homelessness and foster care services, helping more than 600 young people in Orange and Bathurst each year.