At-risk Tasmanian teenagers are engaging in concerning behaviours and being “targeted”by predatory older people, a Launceston service says.
Launceston Young Women’s Service Karinya wrote young teenagers were falling through the cracks and enteringrisky situations in the Shelter Tasmania Annual Report 2016.
The service provides crisis accommodation to young women aged between 13 and 20.
A Karinya spokesperson said young women who did not have access to ongoing support orincome, particularly those aged under 16, frequently felt forced to couch surfin inappropriate environments andparticipated in low level criminal activity to attain money.
“[They] become beholden to inappropriate people who offer to ‘help’ them,” the Karinya spokesperson said.
“They also can become the targets for organised petty crime groups who recruit them to become involved in return for somewhere to stay, and food,” they said.
Theysaid younger females seeking stability also entered into relationships with older males.
“None of these situations are okay and all put them at risk, from others and from themselves via the inappropriate and misinformed choices they sometimes make,” they said.
Karinya in the annual report wroteteenagers aged between 13 and 15 were “not seen as a priority for Child Protection but are also not eligible for support from other support services”.
Launceston non-for-profitYouth Futures, which provides services including crisis accommodation for young men,wrote in Shelter Tasmania’s report that the service’s clients dealt with low levels of literacy.
“This year we have experienced greater levels of unpredictable behaviours, paranoia and depression,” Youth Futures reported.
Shelter Tasmania executive officer Pattie Chugg said there was “not enough emergency accommodation” for vulnerable Tasmanian teenagers.
“This is a crucial issue …children in this age group are not adequately protected as the system is currently designed,” Ms Chugg said.
Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma said the state government was developing a strategy for at-risk youths which would be completed in 2017. She said the strategy wouldlook at youth struggling with issues including homelessness, mental health and drug and alcohol issues.
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