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Couch Surfing

PASSIONATE YOUNG TERRITORIANS take to the streets this Youth Homelessness Matters Day, racing decorated couches to raise awareness on the heartbreaking issue of youth homelessness.

By Tierney Seccull

Since 2012, Anglicare NT and City of Darwin have joined forces for the ever-popular annual Couch Surfing event. Teams get together and decorate old couches with paint, glitter, quotes and messages about their dreams and aspirations, before wheels are drilled into them and they’re sped through Civic Park. There’s a very good reason for it.

Homelessness stats in the Territory are devastating, with over 3,000 young people – which is 12 times the national average – sleeping rough each night. Anglicare NT Director of Community Services Jemma Wood says everyone has the right to feel safe, with a roof over our heads.

“All young people need a safe place to call home. Sleeping on the street, in overcrowded conditions or on someone’s couch is not okay. With support, young people can feel safe, re-engage with education and employment, and connect with family, friends and the wider community.”

Couch Surfing is a pretty fun way to tackle a pretty heavy subject, and one that Sara (not her real name) says is important to young Territorians.

“It’s really big … some young adults, they really try to get their independence and ... they try to break the cycle, but there’s not enough housing and support,” she says.

“Like myself, I lived in overcrowded housing with too many family members. This sometimes causes conflict because of alcohol and drugs. And you don’t want your kids to be around that environment. And you want to protect your own peace and mental health. It can be traumatising, as some people can control themselves and some can’t.”

In addition to the couch race, and most importantly, there are local services on hand to provide vital information and support to young people that may find themselves sleeping rough.

“They can access information and connect with local services in a non-judgemental space. It is important young people know they are not the only ones facing challenges and that support is available,” Wood says.

There’s free entertainment and activities, and food and water is provided. So head along, be part of change, and raise awareness on an important issue that’s very close to home.

Couch Surfing | Youth Homelessness Matters Day
WHEN WED 17 APR | 10.30AM-2PM

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