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Homeless Teens Left Hungry Due To 'Emergency Relief' Cuts

With emergency relief funding for Brisbane Youth Services being cut after this year, the city's young homeless population may go hungrier than ever.

Eighteen-year-old Marly May* left home when she was 13 due to alleged abuse and has been assisted by Brisbane Youth Services ever since.

May told 10 daily she's recently been "denied access" to the non-profit's Emergency Relief services as she "bounces around shelters".

"They don't seem to realise what they do affects the lives of those of us under their service, because these services are all that most of us have," she said.

READ MORE: Australia's Shocking Youth Homelessness Figures: Up 43 Percent In a Decade In Victoria, 28,000 Homeless Nationwide

READ MORE: 'Sorry I Only Have Card, No Coins': How Our Cashless Society Hits The Homeless

MAy, who is homeless and unemployed, claimed until recently she was given $20 food vouchers "every few days" for the past two years.

"Now they won't give out any, despite my situation. I finally got one a week ago -- a $10 food voucher for the whole week -- and had a big argument to get it."

May alleged BYS has since "refused" to give her any more food vouchers, "because they said they've spent all their money".

"They claim to be tightening up the budget, that's why they can't give out food vouchers to the homeless young people they're responsible for," she claimed.

Brisbane Youth Services CEO, Annemaree Callander, conceded the increasing number of young people seeking assistance had stretched resources.

The increasing number of young people seeking assistance has stretched BYS's resources, according to CEO Annemaree Callander. Image: Getty.

"We are not always able to assist young people in need," Callander told 10 daily.

"BYS partners with Foodbank and other services to try and provide food parcels to assist young people, but the reality is there is just not enough Emergency Relief available."

BYS relies on an annual Emergency Relief grant from the federal government to assist young people with food, emergency housing, travel and other immediate needs, but Callander said funding is being cut at the end of 2019.

"This is alarming, as it will leave many more young people vulnerable and without the basic life necessities."

May said she did understand how "intense" the growing number of homeless people in Brisbane has gotten.

Nearly a quarter of Australia's homeless people are under the age of 25, according to 2016 census data. Image: Getty.

"Because of how early it is in the year, a lot of people are homeless. After Christmas, it gets intense because people get kicked out of home again."

"Homelessness is a growing problem in Australia and there were 4,454 people aged 12-24 homeless in Queensland in 2016," Callander said.

Callander said from 2017-2018, BYS supported over 1300 young people with almost 32,000 recorded occasions of support.

"This represents a seven percent increase in the number of young people and an 18 percent increase in the number of occasions of support."

She added 47 percent of the young people assisted by Brisbane Youth Services were in "financial stress", with one in five having "no income".

Nearly a quarter of Australia's homeless people are under the age of 25, according to 2016 census data.

*not her real name

Contact the author: samelia@networkten.com.au.