Call for more support services for homeless youth in Whittlesea

Whitney has first-hand experience of what it is like to be homeless in Whittlesea. (Supplied)

By Laura Michell

More homelessness services for young people and young families are needed in Whittlesea, according to service providers and homeless youth.

A recent panel discussion on homelessness in Whittlesea heard there were few homelessness services in the municipality, forcing young people out of the area and away from their support systems.

Young mum Whitney, who has been experiencing homelessness for the past three years, said not being able to access services in her community had been stressful.

“I have children in this area, and this is my home. But, there were no beds available for me when I was homeless,” she said.

“I ended up in a refuge in Brunswick and then out in a transitional house in Melton.

“I had to travel for hours on public transport from Melton to Melbourne every day to be able to see my children and attend my doctors’ appointments. I did all this while pregnant and having a newborn too.”

Whitney said while she was grateful for the support she received from youth services provider Hope Street, it would have been “amazing” to have received that support in Whittlesea.

Hope Street chief executive officer Donna Bennett said there was a need for local responses to youth homelessness.

She said Hope Street planned to build a first response youth service in Whittlesea which will include a refuge to provide crisis accommodation.

The service also wants to establish a mobile outreach service to support about 120 young people annually.

Ms Bennett said the crisis accommodation centre would be the first of its kind in Whittlesea and will be modelled on a similar centre under construction in Melton.

“Young people should be able to access the support and accommodation they need within their home communities, without having to relocate elsewhere to access services,” she said.