Homelessness is often seen as a problem that just affects adults in big cities.


But the sad reality is that over 26,000 Australians under the age of 25 will not have a safe place to sleep tonight1. Some reports even estimate the number of homeless youth to be as high as 44,000.

In NSW, the problem is particularly bad, with 50% of the state’s homeless aged under 252. For homeless youth, couch-surfing becomes a way of life. This was certainly the case for Jacob*, who found himself on the streets at age 16.

With no permanent roof over his head, no food and no way to pay for a meal, Jacob contacted CHESS Employment Services looking for help. He wasn’t sure what services he could access but knew that finding work would be one way to pull himself up from his position.

Before even beginning to help Jacob look for work, the CHESS team connected him with local food associations to ensure he was getting regular meals and helped him to apply for Centrelink payments. They then put him in contact with local housing support agencies to address his living situation.


Since then, CHESS has been in contact with Jacob every day to make sure he is safe, supported, and encouraged to keep moving forward.


Jacob is now beginning to engage with employers to find work, with the help of CHESS who enrolled him in the Smart, Skilled and Hired Youth Employment program. Through this NSW Government initiative, delivered by CHESS and other CoAct Service Partners in NSW North Coast region**, young people who are having difficulty finding a job are connected with training, mentoring and work experience opportunities to help build their skills and experience.

Jacob is living with an older sibling until he gains work and can afford to move into his own place. Despite his situation, Jacob remains optimistic about the future and is very thankful for the support offered by CHESS.


If you are a young person struggling to find work or know someone who could benefit from dedicated job search support, contact CoAct today.


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2012) Census of Population and Housing: estimating homelessness, 2011.
  2. http://www.news.com.au/national/youth-homelessness-is-australias-national-disgrace-with-44000-kids-sleeping-rough-right-now/news-story/fe6bbcfa9dd1be01f221e0c00bfed52e

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons

**CoAct and its Service Partners are one of the organisation delivering Smart Skilled and Hired in the New South Wales region. To find out more visit: https://www.industry.nsw.gov.au/live-and-work-in-nsw/working-in-nsw/smart-skilled-and-hired

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