The Cost of Youth Homelessness in Australia research study is the first national youth homelessness study of its kind in Australia. The longitudinal study attempts to understand the experience and impacts of youth homelessness in terms of economic costs to the Australian community.
The absence of safe and secure accommodation, compounded in many cases by poor health, difficult financial circumstances and social isolation, has direct adverse effects on young people’s mental health and general wellbeing. Furthermore, the choices many young homeless people make, in order to cope or survive, put them at further risk of harm. In short, homelessness has wide-ranging personal and social impacts.
But we need to know more about these impacts, about the experiences and lives of young people and about the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of homelessness programs. This study contributes to the evidence base on these issues and better informs both policy makers and agencies working with young people regarding the homelessness experience and its personal and societal costs.
The methodology used in this study was a longitudinal repeat measures design. The total sample consisted of 394 young people. The homeless group was a sample of 298 young Australians who had experienced homelessness and were in contact with a homeless service when first contacted in Wave 1and a job-seeker comparison group consisting of 96 unemployed and generally disadvantaged young people who were clients of Job Service Australia agencies.