Empowering students to tackle homelessness

Empowering students to tackle homelessness

There are very few people who have not been confronted by homelessness in some way during their daily lives, whether this is seeing a homeless person on the street or knowing someone experiencing it themselves.

According to the most recent Census data, an estimated 122,494 Australians are homeless, with nearly a quarter of those aged just 12-24 years old. And unfortunately, it is a problem that is only getting worse as the cost-of-living crisis intensifies for many Australians.

A report from Launch Housing shows the average monthly number of specialist homelessness service (SHS) users grew from 84,800 people in 2017-18 to 91,300 people in 2021-22. This represents a rise of 8%, which is double the current growth rate of new households forming each year.

In recent years, this crisis has seen a growing focus on helping schools to empower young people to become changemakers in their communities.

Homelessness charity StreetSmart Australia recently launched the free Schools for Change program. Built on 20 years of experience and community advocacy, the program offers curriculum aligned classroom resources for teachers to inspire learning and advocacy for students around homelessness and social change.

Having distributed over $11m to take action against homelessness across Australia since 2003, StreetSmart’s model focuses on keeping funds local and supporting smaller organisations that are critical in their community. 

“Schools for Change is all about empowering students and their school communities to connect with homelessness through meaningful learning experiences and social impact opportunities,” Geoff Hills, CEO StreetSmart Australia, said.

“Young people are often at the forefront of social change, and we are excited to be able to offer these materials as a way to inspire learning, advocacy and impact.”

The suite of resources have been designed in collaboration with Australian educators to create meaningful learning experiences and social change opportunities for students and school communities.

From the Myth-busting quiz and Deep Listening to Different Stories activities that build awareness and foster empathy, to the engaging videos and posters that make high-impact fundraising easy, there is something for every school.

Victor Harbor Primary School principal said the resources are “outstanding”.

“Homelessness is a very fragile topic and one that needs delivering with expertise and knowledge. Your resources enable teachers to do this.”