Experts descend on Cairns to improve youth outcomes

media release

Cairns will host two forums over two days in June when experts from universities, governments, organisations and local community leaders tackle big issues for young people. 

The two events, hosted by the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC), will examine the impact of homelessness for young people leaving out of home care and mental health issues on young people, with the latest research, practices and findings to drive outcomes for the region. 

QFCC Principal Commissioner, Cheryl Vardon, said the events will support the Cairns region by bringing together local experts, including young people and looking for local solutions to help better the lives of young adults who are either experiencing poor mental health or facing the prospect of homelessness. 

The QFCC’s recent study of more than 7,000 young Queenslanders found that mental health and stress was identified as one of the top issues child and young people worry about. 

Ms Vardon said that research shows one in two people will experience mental illness in their lifetime.  

“We know that almost half of all lifetime mental health problems start before a child is 14 years old, and almost 75 percent before 25 years of age,” Ms Vardon said. “It’s important we look beyond health interventions to understand the reasons why so many young people are struggling with their mental health.” 

The Research in the Round event on Wednesday 26 June will see a panel discussion explore how stress changes people’s genomes and the big data that drives social media – two issues that can impact mental health.  

On Thursday 27 June, the Regional Roundtable event will look at homelessness for youth transitioning from out of home care. 

Ms Vardon said the forum will bring together Cairns leaders, young people, and homelessness services workers to find housing solutions for young people after they leave care. 

Recent Census data showed 4454 young people aged between 12 and 24 were sleeping rough, staying in refuges and hostels or ‘couch-surfing’. 

“We know that young people who leave out-of-home care without family support, are particularly vulnerable to experiencing homelessness,” Ms Vardon said. 

For more information and research summaries visit