Smoking Ceremony for Homeless Program

Jessica Rapana | Wentworth Courier | May 20, 2015

Caretakers Cottage has launched its youth homelessness program with an indigenous smoking ceremony. Partnered with the Ted Noffs Foundation and Community Services NSW, the organisation provides accommodation, support and after-care services to young people across East and South East Sydney under the Going Home, Staying Home program.

Caretakers Cottage manager Aliki Filis said youth homelessness was more prevalent in the east than people thought. “People assume that it’s a poverty issue and that it doesn't affect wealthy families,” she said. “It’s beyond status and it’s beyond money.”

About 20 per cent of NSW homeless live in Sydney’s inner and eastern suburbs, and about 22 per cent are under 18.

Most often kids arrived at the refuge due to family breakdowns, mental health issues or drug and alcohol issues, Ms Filis said. About one third were of Aboriginal descent and many local to the eastern suburbs, she said. “We are virtually always full, it’s very hard for kids to get in here,” she said. “We probably only accommodate a third to a half of the kids who actually ring because we don’t have the beds.”

Additional funding would assist with a new early intervention program working with families before it had reached “crisis point”.

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