Couch Surfing puts focus on youth homelessness

The Northern Territory has one of the highest rates of youth homelessness in Australia, with many young people living in overcrowded accommodation or couch surfing. Couch surfing describes people who are moving from place to place with limited support. It’s also the name of our annual community event, which was held in partnership with City of Darwin on Wednesday 21 April 2021.

Held on National Youth Homelessness Matters Day, Couch Surfing aims to raise awareness of youth homelessness and celebrate the resilience of young people with lived experience. Twenty teams of young people from local schools and community groups joined the ultra-competitive couch race heats, with the collaborative team from Grassroots Action Plan, Grow Well Live Well and Larrakia Nation taking first place. Every team presented a fantastically decorated couch, featuring Indigenous designs, flags, graffiti and messages of hope. The Young Mums, Strong Mums team won the best decorated couch with a design of intricately painted mermaids, rainbows and flowers.

The event was well supported by local dignitaries. Minister for Education, Children, Youth, Seniors and Women Hon Lauren Moss MLA, Minister for Territory Families & Urban Housing Hon Kate Worden MLA and Alderman Paul Arnold joined Anglicare NT CEO Dave Pugh in speaking about the issues of youth homelessness and solutions. Her Honour the Honourable Vicki O’Halloran AO, Administrator of the Northern Territory announced the first race of the day.

Over twenty local organisations promoted their support services at information stalls. Bunnings staff cooked up a free barbeque and Lo Castro donated delicious ice cream. Numerous other sponsors donated prizes and financial support. First Nations Radio broadcast live from the event and many other media outlets captured the excitement of the day, sharing messages of support for young homeless people across television, radio and social media.

Young people experiencing homelessness need accommodation and well-resourced support services to help get back on their feet. With a safe home, young people can thrive, build relationships, grow independent living skills and pursue study or work.

“With a home, I can finally be independent, safe, secure and complete – a home really brings family together,” said one young person.

“With a home, I can plan a better future filled with opportunities.”