Race highlights homelessness

Aiden BoyhamSound Telegraph

Youth homelessness will be thrust into the spotlight on April 17, with headspace Rockingham hosting a big community event as part of National Youth Week and Youth Homelessness Matters Day.

Teams from local youth services will go head to head in the Couch Surfing Race for Youth Homelessness, to highlight the realities couch surfers and homeless people face every day.

Headspace Rockingham community engagement officer Jeremy Tucker said there were 22,000 young people homeless on any given night across Australia.

“Couch surfing is a massive issue within the Australian community but also within young people themselves,” Mr Tucker said.

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“A lot of people don’t identify themselves as homeless if they are hanging out at their friend’s place or staying with other family members.

“But... it’s not a sleepover if you can’t go home.”

Data from the 2016 Census found 28 people in Rockingham were classified as homeless, but Mr Tucker said the figure was more likely to be much higher based on feedback from community groups and services that were on the ground in homeless hotspots.

Mr Tucker said some leading factors in youth homelessness included domestic violence and financial stress.

“Home for a lot of young people might not be a safe place — they might be facing family conflict or domestic violence,” he said.

Anglicare’s Y-Shac team, the headspace Rockingham youth reference group, South Metropolitan TAFE Rockingham and the City of Rockingham’s youth advisory council will all take part in the couch surfing race on April 17.

Mayor Barry Sammels will open the free event at 2pm, with food, drink and entertainment also available.

If you are living on the streets, in your car, couch surfing, facing eviction from accommodation or escaping family and domestic violence, call Entrypoint on 08 6496 0001 or 1800 124 684 for assistance.

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