Tonight 116,427 Australians will be homeless. 8,200 of these people will be sleeping rough on the streets, not including those in crisis accommodation, sleeping in cars or doing it tough elsewhere. Every day, 250 people are turned away from crisis centres across Australia.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) defines that when a person does not have suitable accommodation alternatives they are considered homeless if their current living arrangement:
- Is in a dwelling that is inadequate;
- Has no tenure, or if their initial tenure is short and not extendable; or
- Does not allow them to have control of, and access to space for social relations.
Homelessness has gone up by 14% in Australia
Research from the ABS show that 116,427 Australians were counted on Census night in 2016 as being homeless. This was an increase of 14%from 102,439 people in 2011. The rate of homelessness is 50 out every 10,000 people. This rate increased by 5 percent from 2011 to 2016.
Many experts believe that the ABS homelessness data is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ with many more Aussies who are ‘the hidden homeless’. These people may move between the homes of family members, ‘couch surfing’ at friends’ and relatives, staying in refuges, boarding houses, staying temporarily in cheap motels or caravan parks, or in their cars.
Homelessness in the Yarra Ranges has also increased
In Victoria there has been an 11% increase in homelessness between 2011 and 2016.
Homelessness has grown worse in the Yarra Ranges, increasing by nearly 8% from 334 homeless people in 2011 to 360 people in 2016. The areas of Belgrave – Selby, Mount Dandenong – Olinda, Healesville – Yarra Glen, and the Yarra Valley, saw the biggest increases in homeless locals.
Homeless people have poorer health outcomes
It's not surprising that homelessness impacts people’s physical health and mental wellbeing. People experiencing homelessness are at higher risk of some medical conditions like asthma, heatstroke/heat exhaustion, Hepatitis C, heart disease, liver disease, and diabetes. They are also more likely to need the support of a mental health professional; be taken to a hospital against their will for mental health reasons; or have attended an Accidents and Emergency Department due to not feeling emotionally well or because of their nerves.
The uncertainty of homelessness can also have a huge negative affect on a person’s self-worth, and impact their capacity to go to school, find work, stay in work and also stay healthy.
Types of homelessness
Homeless people living in severely crowded dwellings – defined as needing four or more extra bedrooms to accommodate the people who usually live there, was the biggest contributor to the increase in homelessness. This group account for 51,088 people, up from 41,370 in 2011, an increase of nearly 24%.
The number of homeless people living in boarding houses also increased by 17%.
The number of homeless people who are ‘sleeping rough’ in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out, has also increased by 20.4%.
Why are people homeless?
Homelessness in Australia polled Victorians who were sought support from specialist homeless services. The poll showed that the main reasons why Victorians were homeless were:
1. Domestic violence and relationship issues (time out from family, family breakdown, violence and assault) 33%
2. Accommodation issues (housing crisis, inadequate or inappropriate dwellings) 29%
3. Financial difficulties (housing stress, unemployment) 22%
4. Other (transition from care/custody, lack of support, discrimination) 14%
5. Health reasons (mental health issues, substance abuse issues) 3%
Who is more at risk of homelessness?
When we think of homelessness, we often think of a man living on the streets, maybe on a park bench or under a bridge somewhere. But the reality is that homelessness has many faces: young, old, female, couples, and families too.
In the 2016 Census, of those experiencing homelessness, 58% were male and 42% were female.
Homelessness is most common among young people
58 per cent of homeless people are aged 34 or younger, while only 46 percent of all Aussies fall in this age group. Young women aged 15 – 24 have the highest rate of assistance from Specialist Homelessness Services, with domestic and family violence and sexual assault being the main reasons for needing help.
Homelessness among the elderly is also increasing
People aged between 65 and 74 experiencing homelessness increased to 27 people per 10,000 in 2016, up from 25 per 10,000 people in 2011. The number of women over 65 who had become homeless was significant and was probably related to things like domestic violence, social relationship breakdowns and not having enough money to support themselves.
Homelessness also affects many Indigenous Australians
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up 20 per cent of the homeless population despite making up less than 3 per cent of the Australian population. Recent migrants to Australia made up 15% of the estimated homeless population with close to 75% of this group considered to be living in severely crowded dwellings.
Health care services and support for people at risk of homelessness
Inspiro provides low cost health care services to people on low income and at risk of homelessness. Our counsellors and community nurses can also work with people experiencing alcohol and drug problems, mental health issues or gambling addictions.
We also offers a No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) which is run in partnership with Good Shepherd Youth and Family Services to provide funds for loans to low income individuals and families living in the Shire of Yarra Ranges. For more information about NILS click here.
If you or someone you know may need health support, please call our reception team on 9028 0153.