Singleton's Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation secures NSW Government funding for youth homelessness program

Singleton's Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation has secured ongoing NSW Government support funding for its youth homelessness program.

Ungooroo's Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) program delivers support services and initiatives for young Aboriginal people (aged 12-25) who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Ungooroo Youth Officers Adam Swadling and Scott Burgess

Ungooroo Youth Officers Adam Swadling and Scott Burgess

The announcement was made during National Homelessness Week.

In the past financial, 201 young Aboriginal people from across the Hunter Valley accessed Ungooroo's SHS program for assistance in finding stable accommodation. This financial year, Ungooroo is expecting those numbers to rise further as vacancy rates in regional Australia hit record lows and median rents are at a 10- year high.

Ungooroo's CEO, Taasha Layer, said that being homeless is about more than having nowhere to live.

"Homelessness is such a complex issue. Not having a stable and safe place to live can have a negative effect on a young person's physical and mental health and can make it incredibly difficult for them to stay in school or continue with training," Ms Layer said.

Census data from 2016 shows 9,042 between the ages of 12-24 in NSW were classified as homeless, a 36 per cent increase from the 2011 figures.

The same data showed Aboriginal people accounted for 6 per cent of the entire homeless population in NSW and 1.1 per cent of the NSW Aboriginal population were recorded as homeless in 2016.

Ungooroo's Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) team of Youth Support Officers work in partnership with local housing and other service providers, such as those delivering drug and alcohol, domestic violence and mental health programs.

According to Ms Layer, these collaborations between services help people at risk of becoming homeless to stay housed and those already homeless to find and keep a home.

"We understand that underlying issues such as poor mental health, relationship breakdowns, unemployment and drug or alcohol misuse can compound the challenges faced by a young person who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless," she said.

"Our Youth Support Officers Adam and Scott work with our partners to intervene early and the aim is to prevent people from becoming homeless."

To support the growing demand for mental health services across the community, Ungooroo has also recently welcomed Mental Health Worker Renika Chedzey to the team.

Ungooroo's CEO, Taasha Layer

Ungooroo's CEO, Taasha Layer

Renika will work within Ungooroo's Kawuma-Miruma program which focuses on mental wellbeing and suicide prevention.

"The mental health and wellbeing of our mob is important and the Kawuma-Miruma team are available to support members of the community through their mental health challenges with yarning groups, support

sessions and greater access to information and resources," saidMs Layer.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people interested in finding out more about how these programs and services can support them can visit the website www.ungooroo.com.au or phone Ungooroo on 6571 5111.

This story Funding for vital homeless program first appeared on The Singleton Argus.