Tackling under 16 youth homelessness

Sarah Courtney,Minister for Children and Youth

There is nothing more important than the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, and we are committed to ensuring young people have the supports they need to overcome any challenges.

Consultation is now open on key documents that will underpin a robust and coordinated approach to supporting homeless youth under the age of 16.

Service providers working with young people have been telling us about a service gap for young people under the age of 16 who are alone and have nowhere safe and stable to live.

To better understand these issues the Tasmanian Liberal Government established an Under 16 Youth Homelessness Taskforce in 2019.

Following advice from the Taskforce we provided an immediate increase in funding to enhance community youth support services during COVID-19.

We also established a working group comprising representatives from Government and the Community Sector to progress the recommendations of the Taskforce.

The Under 16 Youth Homelessness Working Group has now prepared draft documents for consultation that will further support these young people across the service sector.

The documents include:

1.An Under 16 Youth Homelessness Policy Framework for Tasmania;

2.Practice Guidelines for Specialist Homelessness Services; and

3.Practice Guidelines to assist Specialist Homelessness Services with a COVID-19 response.

To complement this important work, and as part of our election commitments we have also committed $10 million over three years on the Under 16 Lighthouse Pilot Project.

The project will include a residential care pilot program for young people under 16 who are not in the care of the state and are unable to live at home.

It will also include the creation of new youth wellbeing officers in the Strong Families Safe Kids Advice and Referral Line to support young people under 16 who are at risk of homelessness and provide advice to service providers and families.

I encourage anyone within the service sector to provide feedback on these documents before the closing date of 16 July 2021.

The documents can be found on the Communities Tasmania website.

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