POOR family functioning and serious mental illness were the biggest factors among homelessness for teenagers, according to Mission Australia.
The charity announced the results of the Youth Mental Health and Homelessness Report as part of Homelessness Week this week.
The survey was open to teenagers from 15 to 19 years old living in Australia and looked at a number of factors which may increase a young person’s vulnerability to homelessness.
In WA, those with a probable serious mental illness are four times more likely (34.5 per cent) to have spent time away from home than those without a probable serious mental illness (8.5 per cent).
Mission Australia’s WA State Director Jo Sadler said that couch surfing is one of the first common ways young people experience homelessness and puts them at greater risk of homelessness later in life.
“Youth homelessness is closer to us than we like to think,” she said.
“Young people at risk often go unnoticed and don’t receive the early help they need to prevent future homelessness.
“The link between homelessness and mental illness among young people works in both directions, as young people who are experiencing mental illness are at increased risk of homelessness, while those who are homeless are at increased risk of mental illness.”
Mission Australia is calling for urgent action to address both youth homelessness and youth mental illness.
“The findings in this report are incredibly concerning and I strongly urge governments of all levels to commit to halving youth homelessness by 2020,” Ms Sadler said.
“All young people deserve a safe home and we have the means to provide it. All that is needed is the political will and the commitment from us all as a community.”