Breaking the cycle of homelessness for young parents
"Just providing a roof over their heads will never be enough.”
These words come from our Head of Client Services, Brendan Bourke, regarding solutions for young parents facing homelessness.
Last year, the San Miguel Family Centre in North Richmond changed their service model to focus purely on young families – and for good reason.
Each year, 10,000 young parents in Australia require support from specialist homelessness services, making up a huge proportion of young people aged 12-24 experiencing homelessness.
While services do exist for homeless young people, there are limited services for young parents specifically.
Over a third of the 116,000 homeless people in Australia say that family violence or relationship breakdown is why they are homeless.
Tragically, an exceptional number of young parents who come to San Miguel have been victims of either chronic sexual abuse or sexual assault, some by members of their own families.
San Miguel Manager Alison Schneidereit recalls a teenage mum who came to the centre after being under the care of the NSW Government for two years.
“During her most recent placement, she became pregnant and was forced to leave as the accommodation service wasn’t equipped to support young parents – luckily, she was able to access a place at San Miguel,” Alison said.
"Over a nine month period we looked at why she was homeless in the first place, working with her to establish positive healthy relationships. Using our unique Expressive Therapy program we helped her and her child work through past trauma and create a secure parent-child relationship.
"We also helped her develop independent living skills and provided links to employment options and legal, medical and other specialist services.
"We gave her the support needed to find a way forward."
By helping young parents secure sustainable housing and employment, we’re not only improving the life prospects of their children, but also breaking the cycle of homelessness and welfare dependence.
With stories from San Miguel familiar to many homeless people in Australia, it’s evident that the solution to homelessness is multifaceted. As Brendan mentions, accommodation is often not enough.
The San Miguel Family Centre can accommodate up to 19 families, including 40 children at any one time and is usually filled to capacity. San Miguel is 97% funded by the yourtown Art Union.