New research from a Swinburne-led study has found that the annual cost of health and justice services for homeless youth in Australia is $626 million.
This is in addition to the cost of providing support and accommodation services for youth experiencing homelessness.
The study, undertaken from 2011- 2015, followed nearly 400 young Australians, looking at their experiences and use of services.
“For every young person who becomes homeless there is an average net expenditure of almost $15,000 per person per year on health and criminal justice services,” says lead researcher Associate Professor David Mackenzie, Swinburne University of Technology.
“If you become homeless you are more likely to become sick. You are more likely to use medical services. You are more likely to need help in hospital emergency rooms. You are more likely to be the victims of violence and assault.”
Associate Professor David Mackenzie says the research calls for a complete reform of youth homelessness policy in Australia.
“Experiencing homelessness is traumatic. Young people have often left home because of family violence,” he says.
“We need to invest in early intervention initiatives to capture the flow of young people becoming homeless in the first place.
“The emerging place-based ‘community of schools and services’ model being developed in three Australian states is highlighted as a particularly promising ‘collective impact’ service reform model.”
The research was conducted in partnership with the University of Western Australia, Charles Sturt University Salvation Army, Mission Australia and Anglicare.
The chief investigators were Associate Professor David Mackenzie from Swinburne University’s Institute for Social Research, Professor Paul Flatau, Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia and Professor Adam Steen from Charles Sturt University in New South Wales. Swinburne’s Associate Professor David Mackenzie and Dr Monica Thielking focus on coordinating and managing the CYHA data collection.
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