'I believe a lot of this wouldn't be happening if they just had a safe, stable place to sleep every night'

Homelessness is an unfortunate reality for thousands of people, and a realistic threat for many others.

The obvious impacts of homelessness are there for all to see ('living rough', no work, lack of available facilities), but one impact that can slip under the radar is how homeless kids are affected.

Greg Curry, a Youth Engagement Officer with the South Coast Police District, has worked with children and families around NSW's Eurobodalla Shire for more than 10 years.

He was one of the driving forces behind the Walawaani Program in Moruya on the NSW South Coast that aims to give kids a free healthy meal and some fun activities twice a week near Gundary Oval.

Mr Curry said this helped keep kids off the street where they were more likely to "come under notice" of local police.

"For the young people I work with, if they're having to couch surf or live out of a tent or caravan, there are difficulties for them in getting to school, getting three square meals a day - a lot of basic things most people take for granted," he said.

"They don't have access to a washing machine or a comfortable place to sleep, they don't know where they'll be staying or where they'll be getting their next meal from.

"They need consistency and security to be able to get up each morning and feel good about themselves - that is a good sleep, a good meal, and a clean uniform for school.

"If they don't have these things, attendance at school can go down because they're embarrassed by either having a dirty uniform or no lunch to eat, and that flows on to their behaviour changing."

Mr Curry said the slide into a troubled childhood was a "slippery slope" for kids from homeless families.

Although everyone who is homeless feels the negative impacts, children can face a tough future due to something completely out of their hands.

Although everyone who is homeless feels the negative impacts, children can face a tough future due to something completely out of their hands.

"Once they're on that trajectory, it's all downhill from there, and it's a hard one to stop because there's not much affordable housing available," he said.

"They'll come under notice of the police because they're out on the streets and become involved with minor offences.

"They won't necessarily get criminal records, but they're more likely to have things like detentions and expulsions from school or dealings with police under the young offenders act.

"I believe a lot of this wouldn't be happening if they just had a safe, stable place to sleep every night."

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Mr Curry said there would be no "quick fix" to the issue until more affordable housing was built, but did say there were small things people could do to help homeless kids.

"If you take the time to get to know young people and their families, understand their situation and listen to what they need rather than telling them what you think they need, that's a big help," he said.

"You have to remember these are human beings, they've just happened to be in an unfortunate situation that is usually outside of their control.

"Take the time to listen to them and try to support them that way - the first time I meet a person, they'll always be a bit reluctant to talk because I'm a police officer, but if I keep showing up and helping them with whatever they need, they know I'm there to support them.

"Once those barriers are broken down, then I can support them by referring them to other agencies or whatever else it is they need at the time."

Mr Curry also said the return of a 'Youth Cafe' in Batemans Bay was another way to help kids doing it tough.

"The council used to run something there, but nobody has picked it up recently," he said.

"Just somewhere where they can get a feed and where there are people willing to talk to them. It gets them off the streets, gets them engaged, and gives them a safe place with fun stuff to do."

This story 'Safe, stable place to sleep every night' could keep kids off police radar first appeared on Bay Post-Moruya Examiner.