My matter is for the Minister for Housing. It is chiefly about homelessness but does potentially overlap with other portfolios, so I would both understand and appreciate it if he chose to redirect some of it to another minister on my behalf. Homelessness is a pernicious ever-increasing challenge in many parts of my electorate of Northern Victoria. Unfortunately I do not have nearly enough time available to me tonight to talk about all of its direct impacts across each of those areas, nor other often related social problems like youth disengagement, social isolation, mental health issues, family violence and other crime. Instead for now I will touch on how these problems, especially for young people, affect two of our largest cities.
In Wodonga there is an unprecedented need for accommodation and education solutions for young people amid the devastating ongoing impacts locally over the past year of bushfires, the COVID pandemic and border closures. Youth unemployment numbers and calls for assistance to homelessness service providers in particular have spiked substantially in the Albury-Wodonga region since the first advent of COVID in Victoria. Likewise in Wangaratta the incidence of family violence, child protection investigations and rates of registered mental health clients are all now among the highest in Victoria, with depression, anxiety and stress commonly reported and observed among local students. Family violence is very consistently a catalyst for young people there to contact specialist homelessness services for assistance. In both cities the need to tackle these issues earnestly, including through improving engagement with education and employment opportunities, is becoming ever more apparent.