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Youth homelessness a concern for Benalla

A Benalla mother wants the hidden problem of youth homelessness to be addressed in the community.

MONIQUE FREER June 18, 2014 3:45am

A Benalla mother is calling for support from the community to address the hidden problem of youth homelessness in Benalla.

Libby Skilbeck has been providing temporary accommodation to teenagers at her home within for the past year.

Ms Skilbeck told the Ensign that in the last 12 months she had housed four teenagers.

‘‘Kids I know ... are at school or at school some of the time, living alone as 16, 17-year-olds,’’ she said.

‘‘My main concern is the amount of kids who are homeless in Benalla.’’

The mother of four began helping the homeless teenagers when her youngest son brought home a friend from school who could no longer live at home.

‘‘I’ve always said to the kids to not let their mates not have a roof over their head,’’ she said.

‘‘I really admire these kids, that they’re getting themselves to school and continuing their education against all odds.

‘‘I’m happy to put a roof over their heads while they get organised, but they have to get organised.’’

Ms Skilbeck said she spent a lot of time helping the teenagers to establish themselves on their own, including accessing Centrelink entitlements, finding housing and opening bank accounts.

‘‘These are kids that are on their own — they haven’t got a family unit,’’ she said.

‘‘I find it really challenging that parents get to a point where they say they can’t live there any more.’’

According to the 2011 Census about 6130 Victorians between the ages of 12 and 25 have nowhere to call home, and almost 60 per cent of homelessness service users are under the age of 25.

Ms Skilbeck said she had spent a lot of time in contact with Benalla P-12 College in a bid to improve the outcomes for teenagers without homes.

For full story see this week’s Ensign.

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