Whitelion-hearts aim to give shelter

Jasvinder Sidhu and Charlotte Kelberg. Picture: Damjan Janevski

Campaigners trying to combat youth homelessness in Wyndham have set themselves a goal to raise $100,000 by the end of the year.

Whitelion Australia, in partnership with Let’s Feed, is embarking on a year-long drive to raise funds to support young people at risk of homelessness.

Whitelion program manager Charlotte Kelberg said that since the organisation set up in Wyndham more than nine years ago, the problem of youth homelessness had skyrocketed with growing numbers of young people aged 12 to 25 sleeping on the streets, in tents or couch surfing.

“The main cause of this is family violence,” Ms Kelberg said. “We know that, over the past 10 years, the rate of family violence in the area has increased by [more than] 160 per cent.

“Other leading causes include significant alcohol and drug issues as well as systemic issues like the price of housing and the lack of crisis accommodation.”

She said another contributing factor was the rate of unemployment in Wyndham, which sits at 13.5 per cent. Australian Bureau of Statistics data released in January records the state average as 6.2 per cent.

The $100,000 campaign will focus on providing short-term local accommodation for young people at risk of being homeless. It will also go to street outreach, case management and community engagement programs.

Ms Kelberg said Whitelion in Wyndham helped more than 10,000 people last year through its outreach programs, but it lacked adequate resources.

Let’s Feed founder Jasvinder Sidhu said his group, which operates out of the Sikh temple at Tarneit, was helping the campaign by providing resources and logistics.

“We promote the campaign through our communities and networks and fill any gaps we can by also providing food donated to us,” Mr Sidhu said.

“We also have access to local Sikh, Hindu and Islamic communities, who are willing to contribute to society after migration,” he said.

Click here to donate to, or learn more about Wyndham’s youth homelessness campaign.