Harrowing truths about homeless youth being exploited on the coast

Mal Cayley (L), Paul Moreton (IFYS) (R)

In the latest episode of the Homes For Everyone podcast that highlights the heartbreaking and unexpected impacts of the current housing crisis, the harrowing truth about the exploitation of Sunshine Coast youth in exchange for accommodation was revealed.

Paul Morton of Integrated Family Youth Service (IFYS) joined local businessman and podcast host Mal Cayley in the studio to share that he is seeing a scary number of youth risking their safety and enduring physical and mental abuse just to be able to have a bed to sleep in.

“The average young person that we work with has usually come out of a crisis and is disengaged from family so, when you compound that with rents of $500 and $600 a week in a hot property market, young people aren’t going to be high on the list for approval of a property,” Mr Morton said.

“We’ve got this other part of our community that people don’t see that’s not on display. People are turning to couch surfing or sleeping in tents on properties and sadly, the horrible and insidious side of this is that these people will often end up in unhealthy relationships where they are having to do all kinds of things to survive, to get a feed in their belly, or for accommodation for the night. It’s survival at best.”

Mr Morton said unfortunately they are having to turn young people away because they can’t find anywhere else for them to go and the physical chance of getting a young person into bed on the Sunshine Coast every night is “not real”. “On the other side of that is the dilemma of the “next step” for those in our housing pathways programs. We might have 60 people living in accommodation arrangements at the moment but there’s no 60 beds out the other side to go to,” he said.

Direct Collective COO Mal Cayley said he feels anger towards the decision makers on the Sunshine Coast because of what it’s doing to the community. “There are people who are approving and not approving accommodation on the Sunshine Coast with almost some self-righteousness around the reasoning (for not approving appropriate accommodation) and yet, there are people on our street selling themselves for sex just to get a home. We have absolutely failed them as a community,” Mr Cayley said.

“We have undersupplied the market, on the Sunshine Coast particularly, for more than a decade. If we act dramatically today to increase supply at all levels of government it’s going to take 2 to 3 years before we see an improvement. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

“(Homelessness) is now no longer about vagrancy or drug abuse. If you’re a doctor and you are renting on the Sunshine Coast and your house is sold to an owner occupier, you are at risk of homelessness because there’s nothing else available for you to go into.

“We have grandparents living in large four-bedroom homes who have nowhere to downsize into so young families, or a group of people like those coming out of IFYS programs, can’t get into them. Our community is held at ransom because we just don’t have enough (property). “We have got to do more than deal with the symptoms, we have to deal with each of the causes which starts with APRA, federal government, state government, council, community attitudes, planning, taxes and policies. “This can be solved if we tackle those things and if politicians and decision makers at every level have the courage to learn, understand and act.

“If we don’t solve this problem by the start of the Olympics, we’ve just started the whole thing again.”

IFYS, as part of their housing services, provide licensed community housing, run crisis accommodation programs encompassing long term housing options, community managed studio units, and crisis shelters, as well as a housing pathways program.

The Homes for Everyone initiative is calling for people to put their digital hand up to join the growing voice of that’s saying, ‘enough is enough’ and real housing solutions need to be delivered. Take 15 seconds to fill in the form at www.homesforeveryone.com.au so that the
collective voice of the community can get the decision makers to pay attention and see real, positive changes achieved.

The Homes For Everyone podcast highlights the dire state of the Sunshine Coast housing market and the unexpected stories of heartbreak from the current crisis. Listen to the Homes For Everyone podcast on Spotify, iHeartRadio, Listnr or visit



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