Wednesday April 18 is Youth Homelessness Matters Day and the figures speak for themselves.

Two separate studies found 35 per cent of teenagers leaving state care became homeless within a year, and care-leavers make up more than half of Australia’s nearly 28,000 homeless youth (aged 18–25) – a group that almost doubled in size between the 2011 and 2016 Census.

At present, 25 year olds account for a staggering 42 per cent of Australia’s homeless population, though the numbers may actually be larger than that as many young people don’t report their insecure living arrangements.

State support stops as soon as teenagers become legal adults, leaving them without a safety net or resources to stand on their own two feet. Every year, 3000 young people are evicted from care on their 18th birthdays, with very little knowledge of what to do next.

That’s why StreetSmart’s donation initiative StreetFunder has chosen the Youth Law Legal Pod Program as its project of the month for April, to raise vital funds for vulnerable youth in Melbourne transitioning to independent living.

In 2013, StreetSmart helped seed-fund the successful Legal Pod program in Queensland, which prevented homelessness for every teenager it engaged.

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The program, now being used in Melbourne, provides a one-stop shop for young people to navigate the complexities of adult life, such as a casualised job market and higher education barriers. The pod helps guide youth through challenges such as renting for the first time, as well as financial and legal issues such as Myki fines, private debt and other legal issues.

“StreetSmart understands our work,” says Youth Law director Ariel Couchman. “We love that they support small organisations like ours. They are willing to fund our everyday work that is so vital … They are, we know, committed to improving the lives of struggling young people.”

Broadsheet has been a proud media partner of StreetSmart since 2009, supporting the annual CafeSmart and DineSmart campaigns. This year, Broadsheet is extending its commitment to include the StreetFunder initiative, something we are incredibly proud to be able to share with our audience.

What sets StreetSmart apart is that every dollar raised goes directly to the project in focus. Its operating costs are taken care of by sponsors and philanthropists, allowing it to donate all funds to where they’re needed and intended.

To date, StreetFunder has raised total of $133,172 has been raised for 24 grassroots community programs, and StreetSmart has $4.85 million since it launched in 2013, helping 1586 vital community projects in Australia.

Find out more about how to donate to StreetFunder on the StreetSmart website. You can also lend your support and voice through the #MakeIt21 campaign encouraging governments to extend state care to 21 years of age.

Broadsheet is a proud media partner of StreetSmart.