Youth homelessness in Australia is costing us millions

A world-first study from Australia says we could save $626 million every year by investing in early intervention for youth justice and health costs for homeless youth.


The Cost of Youth Homelessness in Australia (CYHA) was released on Thursday showing the need for early intervention with young homeless people in Australia.

A media release from the study – which was conducted between 2011 and 2015 – says “the cost to society, just from increased interactions with the health and criminal justice systems for young homeless people, exceeds the total annual cost of all homelessness services across Australia for people of all ages.”

The three principle researchers from the study were Professor David Mackenzie, Professor Paul Flatau and Professor Adam Steen with funding partners The Salvation Army, Mission Australia and Anglicare.

Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeoman says we shouldn’t have the amount of homeless youth in Australia today that we do.

“It is unacceptable in 21st century Australia, that there are more than 44, 000 children and young people homeless on any given night,” she says in a statement as a response to the report.

“[It] paints a stark picture of the cost to society of failing to support vulnerable young people who are homeless or at a high risk of homelessness.”

1 in 6 Australian children live in poverty. Help us find them a safe home. Donate today. 苏州美甲培训学校,长沙SPA,/oqfsHyCgnx pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/i4C1DlKPp5

— Mission Australia (@MissionAust) April 26, 2016

The findings highlight that many young people who leave home have no choice due to family violence. In these instances early intervention is vital to minimise health risks and criminal activity.

Professor David Mackenzie from Victoria’s Swinburne University says the study is important because of what it has managed to show through the results.

“There’s a huge additional cost that we all pay because of homelessness. The total amount is at least $626 million a year, which is more than we spend on homeless services all together,” he tells SBS.

“What we’re saying to the government is, maybe you ought to do cost benefit studies in the welfare area.”

The report’s media release adds: “It calls for a complete reform of youth homelessness policy in Australia, citing a number of innovative and successful ‘early intervention’ programs that, if rolled out nationally, would lead to millions of dollars in savings to the economy.”

It also tackles the issue of youth that are already homeless in Australia, with hopes to look at how to best get people out of their homeless situation.

“We’ve got to get young people out of homelessness as soon as possible, and that’s harder,” Professor Mackenzie says.

We need more early intervention services to help kids at risk #YHMD2016 #YouthWeek2016 苏州美甲培训学校,长沙SPA,/vNzd3KeEt4 pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/yg8q9ldyqJ

— Mission Australia (@MissionAust) April 14, 2016

It’s harder to get youth out of homelessness because they aren’t always able to run a household on their own. So it is necessary to find appropriate housing opportunities.

“Keeping people in education pathways for future employment is absolutely fundamental too,” Professor Mackenzie says.

In her statement, Yeoman says that as the Federal Election nears they are urging the government to consider the findings and ensure they’re investing early to prevent youth homelessness.

“We know from our experience that the long term prospects for young people who become homeless are not good – a disjointed education, lack of support network, risky drug and alcohol use and mental illness,” she says.

“It makes sense to intervene early to address the risk factors rather than waiting until a young person is already homeless.”

Explore the complex issue of homelessness in Australia