Early intervention makes a life-changing difference

Speaking at the Homelessness NSW Conference, PIAC’s Maddy Humphreys has emphasised the importance of intervening early to give young people facing homelessness the best chance of building a positive future.

Introducing a panel discussion about young people and homelessness, Maddy, who is the StreetCare Project Officer at PIAC’s Homeless Persons’ Legal Service, reflected on her own experiences and explained how reaching out to young people at the right time can make a life-changing difference.

‘We know that early intervention works for young people at risk. We know that if we can get in there early and provide holistic, long lasting support, we can stop intergenerational cycles of institutions, criminalisation and homelessness. We’re giving these kids a fighting chance,’ said Maddy Humphries.

‘We have come a long way in recent years in providing effective, person-centred, trauma informed intervention for young people at risk…But we still have a long way to go.’

Youth homelessness has risen disproportionately in the last ten years, with compounding factors such as unaffordable housing, under-employment, mental illness, family breakdown and drug and alcohol abuse contributing to the challenges faced by the 40,000 people who are under twenty five and homeless.

Over the past two years, Maddy has worked with StreetCare, PIAC’s consumer advisory committee on homelessness, to advocate for early intervention.

In particular, StreetCare has welcomed the expansion of a universal screening tool, based on ‘The Geelong Project’, to be distributed in schools in two additional areas – Albury and Prospect – but stresses that early intervention screening tools need to be distributed nationally in order to be effective.

StreetCare has also advocated for increased investment in models of social and affordable housing for young people, such as Housing First ‘Foyer’ models, to deliver targeted, effective intervention for young people at risk.

‘We need to be particularly responsive to the needs of young people in out-of-home care, who are far more likely to experience homelessness than the general population.

‘Early childhood and adolescent experiences of trauma have a life-long effect on individuals and severely increase their vulnerability to homelessness,’ said Maddy Humphries.

Find out more about StreetCare.

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