Young people are some of the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness in Victoria.
Every night, more than 6,000 young people experience homelessness.
Dad left home when I was little, so I never really knew him. I didn’t have any contact with him after I was four. I lived with my mum and when I was 9, Mum moved in with her new boyfriend. He was always angry and mean to me, and he would take out his anger on me. He was nice enough to my mother but seemed to hate me.
Over time he became more abusive towards me. I’d often have cuts or bruises on my body that I would try to cover up by wearing long sleeves or pretending I’d hurt myself while playing football with mates. The bruises were noticed one day at school, and not too long after that, Mum’s boyfriend stopped living in our home and it was just the two of us again.
Over the next couple of years Mum became unwell and would stay in bed all day long.
After a while doctors said she had depression and anxiety; she stopped caring about everything.
During this time, I pretty much looked after myself. I did my best, but my schoolwork started to suffer. I found it hard to focus on what the teachers were saying and eventually I dropped out thinking I would be better off getting a job.
Mum was not happy I had dropped out of school; in fact, she was angry. We started having intense arguments. She would scream at me and blame me for how bad she was feeling. I felt like I was contributing to her problems, so I started staying at a friend’s house to avoid having to deal with her. I would just crash on my mate’s couch and during the day I would try to find work.
I thought I would find a job and a place to live easily, but it turned out to be much harder than I thought. I didn’t feel I could return to mum’s place, so I started staying with a different person every night until I eventually ran out of places to stay. Some of my belongings got stolen while couch surfing and I had no money, so someone recommended I go into MCM’s Frontyard Youth Services to get help.
“Having all your worldly possessions fitting into a backpack, fearing for your safety, not knowing when your next meal, or opportunity to sleep or shower will be...all of these can be really overwhelming. Can you imagine how that would feel?”
Ali's name has been changed to protect his identity.