New data from the AIHW shows that last financial year, 10,985 primary and secondary school students sought help from homelessness services (accompanied and unaccompanied); an 11% increase on the previous year.
The chaos and transience of homelessness is jeopardising the education of Victorian kids.
Without intervention and support, children who experience homelessness have a great deal of difficulty staying in school, focusing on their education and miss out on the emotional stability that comes with having somewhere safe and permanent to live.
Our State Budget Submission calls on the Victorian Government to invest $17.6 million over four years to improve school outcomes for kids without a stable home.
The four-year investment would support 12,000 students to stay in school by providing Specialist Children’s Homelessness workers at every access point, and expanding an already existing program called LOOKOUT that is currently only available to kids in out-of-home care.
“If kids fall out of school or have a troubled schooling, it gives them problems for life.” How can you get a proper education if you don’t have a proper home? #homelessness @YACVic @berrystreet @AshArgoon https://t.co/Wx8JC6OzCp
— CHPVic (@CHPVic) January 9, 2018
If funded, the expanded LOOKOUT program would see teams (including psychologists, learning advisers and a Koori consultant) placed in key regional and urban locations to target young people experiencing homelessness who are at risk of disengaging from school.
Children who stay in school will have the chance to meet their potential, while those that don’t may face a lifetime of poverty, unemployment and a cycle of homelessness. This is why state delivered funding to help the protect these vulnerable children is a sensible investment that will save taxpayers in the long run.
However, States and Territories can only do so much without commitments to ending homelessness being made at a Federal level.
Nationally, we need to address the housing affordability crisis that underlies Australia’s homelessness epidemic. The Federal Government urgently needs to deliver a huge boost to social housing, so that vulnerable families and their children are not forced into homelessness in the first place.
The current Federal Government is asleep at the wheel, despite holding most of the policy levers driving homelessness and the housing crisis – social security, rent assistance, taxation, and federal funding of social housing.
There is still no national strategy to address homelessness and until both Federal and State governments commit to stopping homelessness before it starts, the most vulnerable members of our society will continue to fall through the cracks.