Fighting for youth

Esben Kaas-Sorensen of Anglicare WA, Peta Nordberg of Mission Australia, Brad Watson of the Salvation Army and Leah Watkins of St Vincent de Paul, are the people behind the scenes. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d423386
Esben Kaas-Sorensen of Anglicare WA, Peta Nordberg of Mission Australia, Brad Watson of the Salvation Army and Leah Watkins of St Vincent de Paul, are the people behind the scenes. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d423386

Meet the people working behind the scenes for Anglicare WA, Mission Australia, Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul to break the cycle of youth homelessness and suicide in the CBD and Northbridge.

Anglicare WA Street Connect co-ordinator Esben Kaas-Sorensen said limited long-term housing options meant that community outreach organisations were often fighting a losing battle.

‘Even if we get down to the nitty gritty of the issues that lead to youth sleeping on the streets, there simply is not enough bricks and mortar to house those 2000 homeless kids tonight,’ Mr Kaas-Sorensen said.

‘We can get someone into crisis accommodation if we’re lucky , but then they can only stay there for three months and they’re back on the streets.

‘Are you going to address family abuse, truancy, employment and mental health issues in three months?

‘I would like to have that magic wand.’

Mission Australia regional leader Peta Nordberg said WA had one of the highest rates of youth homelessness in Australia; it is second only to the Northern Territory. 

‘We are leading the country in unemployment for young people, have the lowest number of crisis services and even less transitional housing for people in need,’ Ms Nordberg said.

Salvation Army corps officer Brad Watson said he doubted that many realtors would recommend a young person coming from a mental illness or substance abuse background who had not previously maintained their own accommodation.

‘We also have unique State Government initiatives that compound the issue, like the three strikes policy, the curfew’