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Everyone deserves a
safe place to call home

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Over 122,000 people in Australia will be homeless tonight. You just can't see them.

Many children and young people leave their family homes because they don’t feel safe. But you won’t find most young people sleeping rough on the streets. Instead, they’re out of sight, sleeping at shelters, on friends couches or in their cars. And they have no way to advocate for themselves or access food and healthcare. 

“I knew I had to escape the violence, but I had nowhere to go.” – Emily*

Read more of Emily’s story 

Homeless at just 17 years old, Emily’s* friend offered her a place to stay at her family’s home. The next few days Emily spent couch surfing, becoming one of so many ‘hidden homeless’ young people. Seeing how other families lived harmoniously compared to her own unhappy home situation was eye-opening for Emily and she came to realise she could never go back. She’d need to find a more permanent way to stay safe.  

“I felt so lost during that period and I had so much going on,” says Emily. “I’d go to school and not know where I’d be sleeping that night. It was scary and I didn’t know where to turn.”  

Emily confided in her Year Advisor at school who told her about the Wesley Mission crisis refuge for young people. It was local to Emily and could give her the nurturing care and support she needed. Within a couple of days, she was moving in. It was a turning point in her journey to warmth, comfort and safety.  

“I was terrified as it felt like a big step and I never thought I’d find myself in that position,” says Emily “But as I stepped through the door, I felt a sense of relief, like there was finally some light at the end of the tunnel and I could breathe because I had somewhere stable to stay and the help I so desperately needed.”  

The caring staff at the crisis refuge welcomed Emily and introduced her to Halen, a therapy dog owned and trained by bubbly Youth Housing Worker, Julz. The pair quickly formed a strong bond and Halen became an integral part of Emily’s ongoing support.  

“Halen is trained specifically for work in the crisis refuge,” says Julz. “Many young people come through the door sadly not trusting people anymore and it’s amazing to see the change in them when they get to know Halen.”  

“Halen is great at seeking out people who are feeling down. For Emily, that meant she got support from someone who was just there to love her.”  

With the assistance of Halen’s calming influence, and the help from Julz and the Wesley Mission team, Emily was supported to develop life skills like cooking and cleaning, find employment and access Centrelink payments. Gradually, Emily got back on her feet, gaining confidence and independence along the way.  

Today, Emily can reflect on her progress since she moved to the refuge with well-deserved pride that instils hope in her for the future. She’s found employment, is anticipating further study in veterinary science (thanks to Halen) and most of all has rediscovered trust in other humans. She finally feels safe.  

“Being heard and protected at the crisis refuge helped me learn to trust adults again,” says Emily. “And that in itself has made the biggest, most amazing change to my life.”  

*Name changed to protect privacy. 

1 in 3 people experiencing homelessness are children and young people. Help us end homelessness.

You can give safety and security to people experiencing homelessness this winter

Every person deserves to have a safe place to call home. Here are four ways you can help make that possible.

Give a safe place to sleep

Provide one night’s emergency accommodation.

Gift a personal care pack

Give a young woman escaping violence essential care items.

Provide a dog therapy session

Help a young person who’s escaped violence to heal from their trauma.

Set up a home

Provide a bed, white goods and kitchen essentials to help a young person leave homelessness behind for good.

Partner with us to provide safety and security for Australians in crisis this winter

Learn more about our homeless support services

Crisis accommodation

We offer short-term, emergency accommodation for adults in Sydney and young people aged 14 – 17 in the Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Nambucca regions.

Learn more

Rent assistance

We provide practical support for people experiencing rental stress, financial hardship or who are in rent arrears.

Learn More

Wesley Community Housing

We provide people on very low to low and moderate incomes access to affordable, secure and sustainable housing.

Learn More

Housing support for families

We support families and children who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness with safe and secure housing.

Learn More

*Name and some details changed to protect privacy

[1] ABS Census, 2021

[2] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Homelessness and Homelessness Services, 2024.

[3] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Specialist Homelessness Services Annual Report, 2022 – 2023.


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