Youth homelessness matters
TWEED'S youth homelessness puzzle was chipped away at today by St Joseph's Youth Services.
Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads Centrelink offices hosted Youth Homelessness Matters Day events in which visitors wrote solutions on about 150 puzzle pieces.
St Joseph's co-ordinator Gerina Appo said greater support for families was the solution that she personally desired.
She gave puzzle examples including: more services, volunteers and community consultation; spending less on weapons and more on helping each other; helping each other so they can help you; more funding for youth refuges; and more opportunities for families.
"Some of the comments were quite interesting," Ms Appo said.
"The idea of today was just to create an awareness of how much homelessness there is in Tweed.
"Many people are blown away by the fact there's 170 young people homeless here on any given night."
A community, government and support service organisation approach was necessary to provide lasting homelessness solutions, Ms Appo said.
"It's not just about giving them a job or a home.
"We've got a program through our service that engages with the Department of Communities and the Department of Housing.
"There needs to be more support for families as well: sometimes it seems there's too much damage done and it's hard for them to go home.
"But home might be ok after all."
She said homelessness was everyone's problem and everyone, from individuals to businesses, needed to work toward solutions.
"Individuals and business can help create solutions to youth homelessness in a number of ways.
"Becoming homeless is not a life goal and many people are there often due to traumatic circumstances, so having respect for their situation is important.
"People can also be advocates and write to their local Member of Parliament, highlighting their concerns, or they can ask what local youth homelessness services need and make donations of services, goods or skills to them.
"Many young people just need a start, and businesses could consider employing a young person or provide a traineeship or work experience to them."
For more information phone St. Joseph's on 07 5589 1800.