Working Paper

Young, Homeless, and Raising a Child: A Review of Existing Approaches to Addressing the Needs of Young Australian Parents Experiencing Homelessness

Published: 2016

Non-Technical Summary:

Homelessness among young people is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue both within Australia and internationally. Recent Census data suggests that over 26,000 youth currently experience homelessness throughout the country. Young parents are particularly vulnerable to experiencing homelessness, due in part to the increased stressors and challenges they face when transitioning to parenthood. This is particularly problematic for young parents who experience homelessness. This group faces significant physical, social, and emotional difficulties which may negatively impact on their ability to provide for their child.

While young parents who are homeless or at risk of homelessness are often highly motivated to actively improve their circumstances, they often face considerable obstacles which can prevent them from initiating change and maintaining positive outcomes. For example, a lack of affordable housing, a lack of social and financial support, and a lack of access to education and employment can all act as barriers which prevent young disadvantaged parents from moving out of homelessness.

Australian state governments and several not-for-profit organisations provide services to support young homeless individuals and help them move out of homelessness. We review a number of different service model approaches in this paper, including (i) the Outreach Model, (ii) the Crisis Model, (iii) the Supported Accommodation Model, (iv) the Intensive Support Model, (v) the Foyer Model, and (vi) the Coordination Model.

Our review of the current literature on effective homelessness support services reveals that there is a considerable lack of studies exploring the long-term outcomes of youth who access such services. However, the research that is available suggests that the provision of employment, education and training pathways, as well as ongoing support, all play important roles in helping vulnerable youth move out of homelessness and achieve better life outcomes.

Unfortunately, service providers often experience barriers which prevent them from effectively engaging and addressing the needs of their clients.

The findings of this review suggest that service providers may benefit from putting greater emphasis on the integration of services and providing youth with greater access to employment, education, and training pathways. In taking a more integrated and holistic approach, such services may be better able to address the complex range of issues which many young homeless parents face and, in turn, help them forge sustainable pathways out of homelessness.


Centre Member

Ella Kuskoff
Shelley Mallett