Events & news Community newsroom Rates of youth homelessness climbing on Fraser Coast The rate of young Fraser Coast residents who have experienced homelessness has climbed by almost 8% since 2019, new data suggests. The Fraser Coast Youth Homelessness Survey 2020 results show 13% of Fraser Coast youth have been homeless at some point. This is an increase of 7.8% from 2019. The survey captured feedback from 1107 local young people – about 8.7% of the Fraser Coast’s youth, based on 2018 ABS data. Of the young people who reported experiencing homelessness, 14 said they were currently homeless, 26 had been homeless within the last six months and 20 had been homeless within the last year. A total of 86 young people reported being homeless more than 12 months ago. Homelessness could include couch surfing or being without a safe place to stay. Melissa Lay, Reconnect Youth Centre Coordinator, said while the data was concerning, positive steps were being taken towards change. She said Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre programs like Reconnect (which works with young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness) and Our Voice (a 10-week course providing opportunities, training and employment pathways for youth) were turning lives around. All participants in the most recent Our Voice round had secured employment, Melissa said, and a new round is already under way. For those who want to make a real difference in the lives of Fraser Coast school students, HBNC is now looking for volunteer Youth Mentors. The Youth Mentoring program supports young people within the school system (7-17 years old) who are experiencing difficulty interacting, participating and contributing to the community in positive, constructive and respectful ways. Phone 4194 3000, email [email protected] or visit www.hbnc.com.au/youth-and-family-mentoring to learn more. The survey also captured data about whether Fraser Coast youth felt safe at home, with 14% reporting they had felt unsafe at home. Meanwhile, 13.6% reported having run away from home at some stage. Of those who felt unsafe, 24.79% said fighting between siblings made their living situation difficult. A total of 17.65% lived with domestic violence and 5.46% did not have safe accommodation. Of the young who reported running away from home, 69.13% had run away for one to six days, 4.03% for one to two weeks and 5.37% for three to four weeks. A total of 21.48% had run away for one month or more.