Gold Coast hosts forum on Youth Homelessness

media release

Homelessness for young people leaving care will be in the spotlight at a Gold Coast forum organised by the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC).

QFCC Principal Commissioner, Cheryl Vardon, said the Gold Coast Regional Roundtable discussion is an important follow-up to the recent Queensland Government announcement that foster and kinship carers will continue to receive an allowance for children who turn 18 while still at school, highlighting the vulnerability of young people when they leave care. 

Ms Vardon said the forum aims to bring together youth and homelessness services workers, and Gold Coast leaders for solutions to ensure young people have somewhere to live 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. 

“Much of the focus is on Brisbane, so it’s important also for the QFCC to work with stakeholders in regional areas, listen to the experts and find local solutions to keep our young people safe.” 

Ms Vardon said the Gold Coast forum is the third in a series of roundtables the QFCC has held in regional areas. Previous roundtables were held in Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast in 2018. 

The QFCC will lead a discussion with key government decision-makers, service providers, researchers and law enforcement to discuss the latest research on youth homelessness and responses to the issue. 

Key speakers at the Gold Coast include Associate Professor Cameron Parsell, a social scientist at the University of Queensland who has researched poverty, homelessness and social services. 

Inspector Corey Allen from the Queensland Police Service, will also present. Inspector Allen has experience working with homeless youth and has won awards for his work including five National Crime and Violence Prevention awards. Inspector Allen and his wife Tracey have been foster parents to more than 30 young children. 

Ms Vardon said participants at the event would also include representatives from service providers.  

"The local commitment from the council, service providers and researchers is already very evident and I know this collaboration will help us to find further improvements to policies, services and result in greater awareness of how to support young people after they leave care,” Ms Vardon said. 

For more information and research summaries visit https://www.qfcc.qld.gov.au/