Trace-A-Place: Helping young people escape homelessness for 37 years
13 Aug 2018
In September 1981 SYC (then known as Service to Youth Council) opened Trace-A-Place in South Australia.
The service was designed in response to the lack of specialised support available to young people experiencing homelessness.
The early 1980’s saw youth unemployment rates as high as 15 per cent and many young people coming to the city, seeking work. Unemployment benefits were minimal and young people simply could not afford to pay for rent.
SYC Streetworkers met many young people on the streets of Adelaide. They saw first-hand the issues, the isolation and vulnerability that young people experienced, different to other groups. The opening of Trace-A-Place meant there was a central location that could provide youth specific, appropriate supports to young people going through a crisis.
Trace-A-Place services provided young people with immediate assistance including food, clothing, and accommodation. It also gave them longer-term support to access stable accommodation, find employment, and ultimately move onto independent living.
Today, 37 years later, Trace-A-Place has evolved. It’s core focus of supporting young people to live an independent and prosperous life still remains.
In September 2011, SYC reflected on the need for the Trace-A-Place service on its 30th anniversary. A number of young people who had utilised the Trace-A-Place service, where interviewed. Craig summarised his experience, saying,
“I’m not sure what I would’ve done. I would’ve ended up sleeping on the street for extra nights or attempted to find somewhere I could couch surf. But at the time I didn’t have any options available.”
Craig was ultimately able to secure short-term accommodation, which also allowed him to develop living skills and become fully independent.
“I’ve got more hope for my future now. See, it was looking pretty dim before and now everything’s falling into place and looking good.”
SYC Director for Young People, Liz O’Connell, said the need for a service dedicated to young people remains, as much today as it did in 1981.
“We know that young people who find themselves in need of emergency supported accommodation have travelled a very difficult path by the time they arrive at Trace-A-Place. Often they have exhausted their friendships to secure a place to sleep. Many will have resorted to sleeping in unsafe environments because no other option exists,” she explained.
“Consider then, that this turmoil is occurring at a time when these young people are still grappling with all of the other challenges that come with the transition to adulthood. It’s easy to see why a dedicated, youth specialist service is so important.
“The simple truth that youth homelessness remains as prevalent in Adelaide today as it did 37 years ago highlights the important role that Trace-A-Place still plays and must continue to play into the future,” Ms O’Connell said.
Trace-A-Place is often a first touch point for young people seeking help to avoid or escape homelessness. This important service helps to capture and understand the numbers of young people experiencing homelessness in the community, and the nature of their experiences.
With over 650 young people supported annually through Trace-A-Place, it is a service with a clear need and purpose in the future of our community.