The ACT Government will put an additional $7 million towards young Canberrans at risk of homelessness in the upcoming budget.
The funding will go towards respite accommodation, early prevention and outreach services through the Safe and Connected Youth: Coordinated Service Response Program over the next four years.
The program will help support young Canberrans aged between eight and 15 who are at risk of homelessness or becoming involved with the justice system due to family conflict.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the program would work with both a child or young person and their family to reduce family conflict and create a safe environment at home.
“Young people who have serious problems at home can be at risk of disengaging from school, becoming homeless and even entering the child protection or youth justice system,” she explained.
“The pilot Safe and Connected Youth Program helped most of the young people involved to return home safely and, where that wasn’t possible, the program was able to steer them away from homelessness and ensure they had a safe place to live.
“I am delighted that Safe and Connected Youth will now be expanded to offer dedicated therapeutic respite accommodation in a refurbished property that has been co-designed with young people who have experienced homelessness.”
Youth Coalition of the ACT Executive Director Dr Justin Barker said the program would be the first of its kind in Australia.
“The funding not only supports an early intervention service response but also moderate and crisis interventions,” he said.
The funding forms part of the upcoming ACT Budget, which is due to be delivered at the start of October after being delayed because of the current lockdown restrictions and Canberra’s COVID-19 outbreak.