11 June 2015
MEMBER FOR EVELYN CALLS FOR A UNITED APPROACH TO DEAL WITH YOUTH HOMELESSNESS IN THE YARRA RANGES
Member for Evelyn Christine Fyffe is calling on State Education Minister to help find a solution to youth homelessness in the Yarra Ranges following the Leader’s alarming front page article “Only Home at School”.
“After reading the article, I was compelled to raise the issue of student homelessness directly with the Minister for Education as both our electorates cover different parts of the Yarra Ranges.
Mrs Fyffe asked the Minister for Education through a Constituency Question in Parliament what new action would the Minister consider taking to reverse the growing trend of sleeping rough and couch surfing.
“I was personally shocked to hear just how many of our young people are couch surfing or sleeping rough but perhaps more shocked by how well young people are masking their difficult circumstances.
Ms Fyffe said that with family violence and drug related issues becoming increasingly prevalent it is understandable that young people may want to get away from what are sometimes toxic home environments.
“Not all families are living an idyllic life. In my line of work I hear about abuse, drug use, child custody battles and mental health problems on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, these serious issues run in some families as a seemingly inescapable cycle.
“A child who is worries about where they are sleeping for the night or where their next meal is coming from will not be focused on school. Yet education is the very thing that offers these kids a chance to generate their own opportunities for success to break the cycle once and for all.
Ms Fyffe said that she hopes for a positive response from the Minister for Education.
“Because it appears that at risk children feel safer approaching their teachers with whom they have a trusting relationship, it is important that a solution is funnelled through our schools or these children may never find the assistance they need.
“I know the Minister for Education will be as concerned as I am. By being in government, the Minister has a chance to really make a difference to these children. I hope it won’t be an opportunity missed,” Ms Fyffe said.
Mrs FYFFE (Evelyn) — (Question 288) My question is to the Minister for Education. I refer to an article from this week’s Lilydale & Yarra Valley Leader headed ‘Only “home” at school’. It tells of a disturbing increase in the number of students, many of whom are primary school aged, who are either running away from home or forced to leave home prematurely because of difficult family circumstances. It is based on a study by Swinburne University. Given that many of the students remain enrolled at school, the Department of Education and Training arguably can play a bigger role in student outreach than Department of Health and Human Services. Students are more likely to approach teachers and school staff when trust has already been established. Given that the study relates to young people who also reside in the Minister for Education’s electorate, I ask: what new action will the minister consider taking to reverse the growing trend of young Victorians sleeping rough and couch surfing in the Yarra Ranges?