I would like to thank everyone at STREAT for everything they’ve done for me. They have helped me through so much. Now I don’t have to be afraid of Nada anymore! Thank you Craig, Vanessa, Bec, Kate, Kim, Nada & everyone else who is part of STREAT for this wonderful experience!
Did you know that young people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT) experience disproportionately higher levels of homelessness than the general youth population? On any given night 26,060 young Australian’s don’t have a fixed address. Of these, it’s estimated that approximately 24% identify as GLBT.
The process of coming out often forces families to confront their attitudes and beliefs around sexual orientation and gender identity. Sadly, rather than accepting their children’s sexuality or gender identity, family relationships break down and way too many young people are forced out of their support networks and onto the streets.
In an effort to secure a roof over their heads for the night, many same sex attracted and gender diverse young people are forced to put themselves at high risk of abuse and exploitation by hitting the scene and going home with people they barely know.
Here at STREAT, we feel the impacts of this issue first hand. Over 25% of young people accessing our program identify as GLBT.
So what causes a family to push one of their own out of the house and onto the streets? Well if you turn to recent media coverage the answer becomes pretty clear. Everyone from politicians to sports heroes are dishing out homophobic slurs and garnishing them with a good dose of discrimination. It’s easy to see that homophobia and heterosexism are deeply entrenched within Australian society.
Imagine what it must be like for GLBT young people to come out amidst all of this fear and hatred? A recent study provided a sobering reality check… GLBT young people are five times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual young people (21.5% compared with 4.2%).
In the powerful words of the Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby - Enough is enough! It’s time that young people who identify as GLBT are provided with an inclusive and supportive social environment in which to be nurtured, so they can reach their full potential, and enjoy the basic human right to live their lives free of homophobia, transphobia and discrimination.
If you are a young person questioning your sexuality or gender identity, the Gay & Lesbian Switchboard offer free telephone counseling, information and referrals for the GLBTI community in Victoria & Tasmania. You can give them a call on 9663 2939.
I have always had a passion for cooking, but I didn’t know where to start. From my earliest memories every Christmas my aunt would get me to help her to cook all of the yummy treats that we used to have like mince tarts and short bread cookies.
I left high school when I was 16. I didn’t like being there, and I thought that I could be doing better things with my time rather than being stuck in a classroom. So I disengaged myself from my family and from anyone else that I thought was going to try and tell me to go back to school and complete my high school education. I instead spent a lot of my time hanging around with my friends, doing nothing in particular.
All the while, I still had my strong passion for cooking. I successfully applied to TAFE to try to complete a hospitality course. I thought that I was in the right frame of mind to try this, but I was wrong, and I ended up dropping out of the course. A few months later I went back to TAFE and tried again. But again, I couldn’t complete the course and I left.
A few months after I left my TAFE course I was at Frontyard. I was doing an art class called Evolution and I kept saying that I could do a better job at supplying the lunches. This was because in my opinion and the opinion of everyone else who was there, that the muffins weren’t cooked properly and I kept banging on about it! So the worker who had gotten me into the Evolution course, then referred me to a place called STREAT.
A couple of weeks later I had my first interviews and I was put through to the next round. Once the second interview was complete I was then told I had been accepted into the program. I was so excited!
So that’s how I came to be in the STREAT program and I’ve enjoyed every minute that I’ve been here, particularly in the kitchen and on the carts as well. So far it’s been a lot of fun, but it’s also been a lot of hard work, and this time around I’m not going anywhere!
This famous quote from an anonymous author pretty much sums up the recent graduation of our second intake of STREAT trainees. Last night as I watched our latest graduates celebrating their achievements with family and friends it became clear just how far on their journey each of these talented young people have come, and their individual transformations have been truly inspiring to all of us at STREAT.
Only eight months ago our new graduates stepped into STREAT for the first time hesitant, distrusting and full of self doubt. Throughout their journey’s they have shown an enormous amount of courage, and resilience and have achieved such a great deal along the way. They have grown into capable, confident and qualified young people, all with amazingly bright futures that await them in their journey’s ahead.
After reviewing Chamberlain & Mackenzie’s ‘Counting the Homeless’ Report (2006) and applying a ‘new’ methodology, the ABS have revised the number of young people experiencing homelessness from approximately 21,000 down to 5,000 nationally.
Categories such as couch surfing and overcrowding which both currently fit within the cultural definition of secondary homelessness; will be removed from being applied to the census data analysis, reducing homelessness in this category by 58%.
Unlike Chamberlain & Mackenzie’s comprehensive analysis of the 2001 and 2006 census, data obtained from Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) and data from the Secondary School Survey will not be included. Instead, the ABS will form the homelessness estimate purely from raw census figures obtained on census night.
Federal funding for the National Census of Homeless School Students has been denied, severely limiting the number of young people who are attending school, but who are also experiencing homelessness to be counted. In 2006 an estimated 7000 young people were homeless but still attending school.
Homelessness is a hidden issue even with the rigorous methodology applied by Chamberlain & Mackenzie to previous Census counts. Australia has been in a unique position to have a consensus on homelessness figures at all, and this should not be compromised in the analysis of the 2011 Census data.
ABS data is used widely amongst services providing responses to young people to lobby for funding that will go towards tackling the issues that have led to young people experiencing homelessness.
Over quite a number of recent years we have also seen the word ‘youth’ falling out of policy and funding descriptors amongst the homeless sector, further contributing to hiding levels of homelessness amongst young people in preference to more generic ‘one size’ fits all approaches.
The question: ‘Who will stand up and be counted?’ needs to be put to federal, state and local governments, who over recent years have claimed that homelessness will be halved by 2020. Will this be achieved by the way Australia chooses to count the homeless through the ABS?
These changes will have a significant impact on the lives of young people experiencing homelessness, as they will have to become 'rough sleepers' in order to be noticed. By this time any early intervention opportunities that could have been implemented will be lost and young people will have accumulated many more issues that will affect their ability to get out of the homeless cycle.
Australia – a lucky country – for some but not for all, and certainly not if you have the misfortune to be young!
When class 2 finished the STREAT program last week they told us how supported they’ve felt throughout their seven months with us. And that’s not just because we have an amazing team to support them, but because we have amazing customers, amazing online supporters and amazing partner organisations who show their support in a myriad of ways. Thank you for spreading the love – our youth have felt it! As one of our graduating trainees said last week…
‘It feels like a family ought to at STREAT, a good kind of family, not like some families…’
So here’s one more thing you can do. Help us write a collective poem to Class 2 on what we hope for their future. All you’ve got to do is contribute one line.
Last night I had a dream in which I was a train driver with train full of carriages that were only connected to the engine by the complex co-operation of the passengers (in true dream like fashion). What the? Was it cheese I ate just before bed?
It took this weirdo dream to realize how important last night’s STREAT work meeting actually was. Six of us went until midnight – literally – talking about and planning the big picture stuff and the minutiae related to the selection process for the participants, and how STREAT’s social support program was actually going to work. When it kicks off in less than two months.