Mission Australia and Mission Australia Housing will present independent research and housing solutions across a number of sessions at the AHURI National Housing Conference, which begins today.

On Friday 1st December, Mission Australia’s new CEO James Toomey will present findings from Mission Australia’s Youth Mental Health and Homelessness Report, highlighting that early intervention is key to reducing ‘couch surfing’ and addressing mental health issues for young people. The report shows that poor family functioning and serious mental illness are factors that increase risks of homelessness for young people aged 15-19 years living in Australia.

Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said: “We know that the link between homelessness and mental illness among young people works in both directions: young people who are experiencing mental illness are at increased risk of homelessness, while young people who are homeless are at increased risk of mental illness.”

“Our report shows that young people with a probable serious mental illness are more likely than their peers to have spent time away from their home because they felt they couldn’t go back. We need to make sure that there is a holistic response that factors in a young person’s need for secure accommodation and also the wraparound services that can support them with their mental health.

“From our experience engaging with young people at risk, we know what works. In some cases, acting early to address mental health and family conflict issues can prevent young people from becoming homeless. We need to ensure schools are equipped to identify students who may be in need of support, actively work with families so young people can remain at home where it is safe, and provide targeted services and supported accommodation when it’s needed.

“A safe and secure home provides a young person with a firm foundation, where they can study or build a career,” said Mr Toomey.

Mission Australia is calling for action to halve youth homelessness by 2020, which requires a commitment from all levels of government to provide housing that is truly affordable to young people as well as appropriate support services.

Also presenting at the conference on Friday 1st December is Mission Australia Housing Executive Chris Bratchford, who will speak about the role that social housing stock transfers play in building the capacity of Australia’s community and affordable housing industry. Mission Australia Housing was recently selected by the NSW Government to take on the tenancy management of around 1,050 social housing properties in Coffs Harbour and Bellingen.

On Thursday 30 November, Mission Australia QLD and NT State Director Darren Young will present on the complexity of homelessness issues in Australia, the spectrum of interventions that are needed, and the unique needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at risk of homelessness.

Mission Australia Executive, Practice, Quality and Performance Marion Bennett is facilitating a session on tax policy affecting housing, with speakers including Dr John Hewson from ANU and Brendan Coates from the Grattan Institute. The expert panel will explore what’s needed to break the political deadlock on housing tax reform.

Also on Thursday, Mission Australia Housing Strategy and Business Development Manager Amy Hayashi will speak on social housing renewal, presenting Mission Australia Housing’s successful work in Clarendon Vale and Rokeby, Tasmania, where engagement with tenants has been key to creating a vibrant, cohesive neighbourhood.

The Professional Excellence in Housing Awards will be held tonight, Wednesday 29th November, as a satellite event of the conference. Hosted by the Australasian Housing Institute, the Awards provide an opportunity to showcase social housing success stories, recognising and rewarding excellence in professional practice.

Mission Australia is a finalist in the Excellence in Social Housing category, while Mission Australia Housing is a finalist in the Leading Community Engagement Practice category.

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