The stigma associated with being homeless in Brisbane is a prevailing problem and more efforts are needed to help young people, according to Hart 4000 team leader Charlotte Hodges.
A 2005 study found that homeless youths’ experience of stigma played a major role in their mental health and suicide risk level.
Ms Hodges said that after hours support for homeless youths was important: “It is usually during the night that the homeless need help most,” she said.
“Problems can range from depression to anything. We should have services to cater to the homeless youth round the clock.”
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 census divided homelessness into three categories: primary; secondary; and tertiary.
Ms Hodges said primary was the most urgent form of homelessness as it “includes all people without conventional accommodation, such as people living on the streets, sleeping in parks, squatting in derelict buildings, or using cars or railway carriages for temporary shelter”.
Forums such as The International Homeless Forum at http://www.homelessforums.org/ are funded and managed by Australians Dominic Mapstone and Gerry Denton to eliminate social stigma linked with homelessness helps the community to understand homelessness.
Threads on the forum such as “Street Homeless – Life on the Streets”, helps to build a community by allowing members to “meet other people currently homeless from around the world”.
Members of the public can see what the homeless people including youths has to say to the world and key words on forum threads such “Observations, tips and tales” encourage the homeless to speak out.
VAKS short for Vans and Kitchens at http://www.vaks.com.au/ provides information for homeless people including youths the information to obtain food and drink for free or at a cheaper price.
Hart 4000, a team that helps link homeless people including youths to various services that include housing and funding starts off by providing free assessment to homeless people before being able to cater to their needs, said Ms Hodges.
“Homeless people have specific issues,” she said. “We need more awareness and funds to help them.”