Bondi refuge launches new app for homeless youth

Shaya Laughlin | Wentworth Courier | April 5, 2017

A Bondi Junction youth refuge has launched a new phone app today amid reports of children as young as 12 finding themselves homeless in the eastern suburbs.

Caretakers Cottage CEO Laurie Matthews said many vulnerable children were left without a roof because of broken and struggling families.

The centre will launch a new mobile phone app #HomelessKidsMatter on Homeless Youth Day to help teenagers find contact information for all homeless shelters in NSW.

Mr Matthews said the app was the first of its kind and connected young people to important service to help them, including non-profit organisations and government agencies in the homelessness sector.

“We are finding more, younger people,” Mr Matthews said. “More of the 12 and 13 year olds who really don’t have a whole lot of options to return home to family.”

Mr Matthews said it was a tough time for young families who were not getting as much support from extended relatives as previous generations did.

“I think families don’t have near the level of support from their own families and extended families,” he said.

“Young parents are pretty much on their own and it’s meant to be intuitive.

“We’re meant to automatically know how to be a parent and we don’t.”

Mr Matthews said homeless youth often ended up couch surfing which could lead to dangerous situations.

“Superficially that sounds cool,” he said.

“But it is really dangerous (and) kids get exploited in those situations.

“It doesn’t end up being a cheap or easy bed, it ends up being on with a really big cost.

“Kids don’t have the sophistication and capacity to be able to keep themselves safe.”

Mr Matthews said their 10 beds at Caretakers Cottage on Bondi Rd were usually full, with more than 220 kids needing help every year.

“We have kids from Vaucluse to La Perouse at the refuge here,” he said.

“It’s not necessarily about the roof over their heads, it’s more about the quality of their family relationships.

“The young people that we work with are kids whose parents split up and the kids are lost between the parents.

“Or the junkie parents or kids who have significant behavioural issues ... and their parents hit a wall.

“Our role is to try and help those parents to manage their kids successfully.

“We want these kids back at home with family rather than in refuges.”

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