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Combatting homelessness amongst LGBTIQ students

The designated queer space at UNSW. Photo by Dylan Lloyd

A new crisis accommodation initiative at the University of NSW has been implemented in order to combat homelessness amongst LGBTIQ students.

UNSW queer officer Dylan Lloyd, who was a key advocate for the initiative, had to leave his home in the western suburbs as a result of facing an abusive situation after coming out.

Mr Lloyd then moved to the inner city and began studying law at university, but like other LGBTIQ students, he has faced prejudice on the basis of his sexuality along the way.

“Finding a job has been difficult and keeping a job has been worse because I have always been afraid of coming out to my co-workers and my employers. I am afraid that they won’t accept me,” Mr Lloyd said.

“Finding accommodation, I didn’t have a problem with personally, but I know a lot of people do, especially trans* people.”

After being approached by students suffering homelessness and finding others sleeping in the university’s designated queer space, Mr Lloyd decided something had to be done.

Along with the president and the welfare officer of the UNSW student representative council (SRC), Mr Lloyd recently set up new crisis accommodation which includes housing students in rooms at the University’s residential colleges.

“Now the university is going to supply the student union, Arc, with a certain number of rooms every year … What [this] means is [that students will] get access to three free meals a day. [They will] have a room with a bathroom on campus, so that if the situation does arise … [they] can access these rooms for a period of five weeks or more,” Mr Lloyd said.

SRC president Joel Wilson believes that crisis accommodation is an essential student service.

“Students often face considerable financial and social hardship during their time at university. Arc will be renting two apartments off UNSW to use as crisis accommodation for students,” he said.

“Crisis accommodation helps alleviate these circumstances and provides a safe environment for students to find their feet.”

Naomi Farmer, queer officer for the National Union of Students, believes that homelessness and poverty are common issues faced by many students, but when coupled with discrimination, it can become an “incredible” problem.

“Finding rental accommodation is exceptionally difficult, especially if you cannot find housemates who are accepting of your gender or sexuality,” Ms Farmer said.

“LGBTIQ students struggle with their families not accepting who they want to be. It’s very common for families to say you can be with us if you’re this kind of person, but not if you want to present in that other way.”

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