South Australia's homeless young sleeping on friends' couches
Monday, 8 April 2013
Author: Callie Watson, AdelaideNow
Sarah Jean lived with friends before finding a rental property. Picture: Dylan Coker Source: adelaidenow
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SOUTH Australians as young as 14 are couch-surfing from one friend's loungeroom to another in what experts call an "invisible phenomenon".
Welfare agencies say demand for crisis and long-term accommodation outstrips supply and a lack of affordable housing forces young people to live with friends.
University of Adelaide Associate Professor and urban sociologist Susan Oakley is conducting research on the topic.
"Couch surfing is a growing, invisible phenomenon," she said. "Because it's hidden it's hard to calculate how many do it.
"They might have a roof over their heads, but couch surfing can put people in unsafe situations."
Professor Oakley said teens as young as 14 couch-surfed and family breakdown was among the reasons young people left home early.
Census figures show 6113 people were homeless in 2011, including 1453 aged 12- 25 but some service providers believe the actual numbers are much higher.
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