The experience of homelessness amongst young people differs from that of adults.
Homeless youth (aged 12 to 24 years) made up 32% of total homeless persons living in 'severely' crowded dwellings, 23% of persons in supported accommodation for the homeless and 16% of persons staying temporarily in other households in 2016.*
This is why in its strategy, the Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness (WAAEH) identified the need for a cohort-specific action plan to address youth homelessness.
Hosted by the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA), a design team has formed and commenced the development of this action plan. The team consists of: youth members of the Homelessness Youth Advisory Council (HYAC) who have lived experiences of homelessness, a group of diverse professionals from a range of organisations but united by a shared interest to end youth homelessness, plus a small design squad who have worked together to facilitate the process.
Over the past few months, the team has come together for several workshops where they have been following a co-design process to co-develop a youth-specific action plan. The group has used various design tools like ‘system maps,’ ‘journey maps,’ and ‘future narratives’ to empathise, discover, analyse and gain new insights together.
“It’s been one of the most inspiring processes I’ve had a chance to ever be involved in,” said Katie Stubley, Strategic Design Manager at the Centre for Social Impact UWA.
“The individuals in this team feel very confident within the system and they know how they can shape and change it and add value,'' Katie said.
One key highlight of the design process was the “Service Safari,” where members of the HYAC group rode the Street Connect bus and visited a range of organisations that provide services to youth experiencing homelessness. HYAC reported their findings back to the larger design team who included their insights in the formation of the action plan.
As well as contributing directly to the formation of an action plan, the HYAC group have also benefited from being part of the co-design process itself. A number of the team have developed incredibly deep connections through the discovery of similar backgrounds and challenges. The bonds formed through role modeling and support by relying on each other have helped to prevent them from becoming homeless again. Several of the HYAC members have secured additional employment through the networks they have developed during this process.
The design team will be meeting again in the future to advance the youth-specific action plan. Some members of the HYAC team will be presenting on their work at the upcoming Supporting Communities Forum on July 4th.