The Sunshine Coast lifestyle is great but experts say it can be tough for young people trying to get ahead.
The Sunshine Coast lifestyle is great but experts say it can be tough for young people trying to get ahead. John McCutcheon

Coast's youth facing many barriers

THE Sunshine Coast is known for its lifestyle but there are many barriers for local youth to overcome.

Experts say homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse and even transportation have a significant impact.

Integrated Family and Youth Services (IFYS) area manager, Louisa Sutton, said homelessness was one of the main issues.

"What we're seeing is young people and families who require a lot of support in acquiring sustainable housing who are at risk of homelessness," she said.

"So they're sleeping on couches and it could be that they don't have family or are disengaged from them.

"The Coast is a tricky place to find affordable accommodation."

IFYS operates crisis centres in Maroochydore and Caboolture, where young people can stay for up to three months while they work through problems.

Ms Sutton said it was rare to have a young person come in with just one issue and drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues and unemployment were common problems.

"The Sunshine Coast is a great place to live but it's not plentiful in employment opportunities," she said.

"Also on the Coast, there's a lot of casualisation - the hospitality and retail sector is where there is always work and we try to get young people into work in those fields."

Christopher John, CEO of United Synergies, said a lack of transportation made life difficult for young people.

"It creates a real barrier for getting to and from employment," he said.

"We've had some of our young people having to travel an hour-and-a-half, which would be a half-hour drive, for education and employment."

Mr John said difficulty getting a driver's licence also created roadblocks.

"Young people - particularly on limited incomes and when we have such a geographically dispersed community - see it as a significant challenge.

"Around the metropolitan areas it's okay but we don't have the services for far-flung places. It would be great to have more support from the government."

* If you are young person in need of help, contact IFYS on 54383000 and United Synergies is on 54094900.


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