• Youth Homelessness
  • Volume 20, Number 3
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga
 

Some Reflections on the Policy History of Youth Homelessness in Australia

David MacKenzie
University of South Australia
Swinburne University


Youth homelessness in Australia was recognised early on as a social problem area prior to other Western countries, such as the United States and Canada. This article traces the policy history of youth homelessness since the 1980s and finds that, despite vigorous community-based youth advocacy, three official inquiries on youth homelessness and a royal commission-like independent people’s inquiry in 2008, public policy prominence does not necessarily mean policy priority. There were advances. The Reconnect Program launched in 1997 was the first early intervention program for young people at-risk of homelessness or recently homeless, but until recently further implementation of early intervention and a youth-specific and youth-appropriate housing sector remained under-developed. Some lessons can be drawn as the U.S. research and policy development on youth homelessness gains momentum. Using an Advocacy Coalition Framework perspective for policy formation analysis, what has been missing is a sophisticated government engagement and media communications strategy, as well as the deeper and stronger community-based advocacy coalitions that have begun to assemble around the system reform Community of Services and Schools (COSS) model of early intervention.


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