Each year, perhaps even more than once, there is extensive media coverage of the school year and people going back to school. However, the struggle faced by homeless youth in attending school is still largely unrecognized. Many people who have not faced the problem of youth homelessness themselves don’t know how socially disadvantaged kids complete school, if they do at all, or recognize the names of the organization’s which assist homeless youth.
For many socially disadvantaged young people everyday activities such as attending school can be extremely difficult. Many young people can find that school is not a suitable option for them due to behavioural and mental health issues, their homelessness or the financial burden it can involve. However, attending school and completing high school can have a huge positive impact on student’s long-term prospects and development. As Mr Bruce Fink, a long-term benefactor of the youth support group Oasis said, “Education is key to young people carving out a future for a better life. I can think of very few causes that are more important than this”.
Oasis provides professional support to young people who are not part of mainstream schools in Sydney, Australia. Around 32,000 young people across Australia are homeless.
Oasis aims to better the lives of individuals through their Education Centre. Bruce Fink is an individual benefactor that helps to update and upgrade learning tools including textbooks, study guides, field guides and new technology. Young people between the ages of 16 and 25 can access the centre and take their Higher School Certificate courses through the TAFE distance education program. Co-ordinators are available to guide them through coursework. Upon completion, these students are better able to enter the workforce or pursue higher education at University or TAFE.
Cuts to funding from the government can mean non-accredited schools struggle to maintain their programs. Oasis is still operating, but due to cuts in the federal budget the organization has recently had to remove outreach programs, including facilities that acted as emergency accommodation for disadvantaged young people.
Recognizing the work of theseorganizations and assisting through donations where possible is essential to continuing the work they do. The journey from childhood to adulthood is difficult for a large proportion of people, but it is even more difficult for those that are homeless, facing mental illness and family breakdown. With support, homeless young people are able to gain a more stable life that includes a home and work. One of the greatest supports they can receive comes through education.
Education programs such as Oasis not only provide the knowledge required for further education and to establish a career, but also educate young people on mental health, drugs, alcohol and relationships. This education builds the confidence and abilities of young people so that they may reach their greatest potential in their communities.