NAIDOC Week takes place this month from 5 July to 12 July. It is a time to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It also provides an opportunity to shed light on one of most significant issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – homelessness.
Aboriginal people are significantly over-represented in our Inner West Youth Homelessness service, making up 17.8% of our young people. Australia wide, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 23% of those accessing specialist homelessness services, but only make up 2.5% of the population.
Youth Off The Streets recognises the need to facilitate discussions about this issue, that is why developed our #laceitup campaign, which aims to raise funds and awareness for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal homeless young people in Australia.
The campaign draws on the idea that not everyone has the privilege to untie their shoes of a night; some young people have to keep them on in order to flee from danger at a moment’s notice. By getting the community to get involved in campaigns like these during NAIDOC week, we are not only helping to raise the public’s consciousness about youth homelessness, but we are also raising awareness to the over-representation of Aboriginal young people in this issue.
NAIDOC Week is a perfect opportunity for all Australians to get involved in Aboriginal issues because unfortunately, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over-represented in many of our services. Our goal is to bring these numbers down, but we need communities to get behind this if we are to make it a reality.
This NAIDOC Week I encourage everyone to get involved and participate in the celebrations and activities that are taking place across Australia. Whether it’s hosting your own BBQ or lunch, organising a smoking ceremony, or just learning more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, it is important to get involved and show your support.
Father Chris Riley
CEO and Founder at Youth Off The Streets