Teen couch surfer’s experience of homelessness inspires a passion to fight for youth

KICKED out of home at 16, Betty Kerslake was forced to jump from couch to couch and call in favours just to keep a roof over her head.

“I would desperately message friends every night to see if I could have a place to stay,” she said.

“Whatever friends I had I slowly lost …”

Stories like Betty’s are the reality for many facing homelessness, and not necessarily the vision of sleeping rough that first comes to mind.

Each night about 105,000 Australians experience homelessness – 42 per cent of whom are under the age of 24 and 44 per cent of whom are women, but only 6 per cent sleep rough on the streets.

Now 23, Ms Kerslake works with at-risk youth in similar situations to what she experienced.

“I can relate to them on a certain level, I never had programs like this when I was their age and I really do think they would have helped me,” she said.

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