5 facts you didn’t know about homelessness
Homelessness is not the first picture that comes to mind when you think about life in Australia but, living without a home is a reality for people like Amy and her three young children. Amy and her children were among thousands of other people escaping domestic or family violence with nowhere safe to go. Unable to afford accommodation and turned away from shelters, they were forced to live in a borrowed car.
Sadly, stories like Amy's are not uncommon.
In Australia, homelessness can affect people of all ages, men, women, children, and all circumstances but many of us simply don’t see the reality of homelessness in our communities. To uncover the reality of homelessness, here are five facts you probably didn’t know about homelessness in Australia:
1. There are over 122,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night
With a relatively small population, it’s alarming to think that on any given night, more than 122,000 people experience homelessness in Australia.1 People experiencing homelessness are among the most vulnerable in our community. In fact, almost 29,000 people without a stable home are aged 18 or younger1 and in 2021–22, around 25,300 people over 55 years received support from specialist homelessness services.2
2. Only 6% of people who are homeless are sleeping on the streets
The small number of people that sleep rough on streets and park benches are not accurate representations of the common and widespread reality of homelessness.
Homelessness can look vastly different to the stereotypes we hold.
Only 6% of people that lacked safe and adequate shelter sleep on the streets, according to the 2021 Census.1
Most people experiencing forms of homelessness are hidden from public view.
The remaining families and children without a home are forced to couch surf, rely on temporary accommodation such as hostels or caravan parks and many will seek shelter in a makeshift dwelling such as a car.
3. Over 17,600 children younger than 12 years are homeless
In Australia, over 15,800 children younger than 12 years don’t have a safe space to call home. Of this number, just over 200 children will experience the harshest form of homelessness, relying on parks, bus shelters or shop fronts for warmth.1
Without the stability of a safe and secure home, children experiencing homelessness—either on the street or in temporary housing—are forced to grow up without the necessities to enable their healthy development and growth.
4. 60% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing homelessness live in severely overcrowded dwellings
Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up a small portion of the entire population, they are over-represented when it comes to homelessness. Sixty per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing homelessness live in severely overcrowded dwellings, often in remote or regional areas with limited access to support services.1
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, living in an overcrowded dwelling is considered a form of homelessness, having detrimental effects on an individual’s health, quality of life and access to education and employment.
5. Domestic and family violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness in Australia
Domestic and family violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness in Australia.
On average, one woman in Australia is killed as a result of domestic violence every nine days, compared to one man every 29 days.4
This threat to their safety means many women and their children are forced to leave their homes, often with nowhere to go
In 2022, Mission Australia assisted 23,755 people through 78 homelessness and housing services. Through our services we can provide mothers like Amy, who escaped domestic violence a safe place to call home.3
Know someone affected by domestic and family violence?
If you are experiencing abuse or violence it is not your fault. There are support services that can help you. If your life is in danger, call 000. For 24/7 domestic violence counselling call the National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line on 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
Where to get helpAcknowledging that one of your relationships may be unhealthy or potentially harmful can be overwhelming to cope on your own. It can also be difficult to see the bigger context when trying to look at a relationship outside of our own lens. Whether it’s a relationship you need help navigating, a behaviour you want to change or advice to support a loved one involved in an unhealthy relationship, reach out to:
- If your life is in danger, contact emergency services on 000 immediately.
- MensLine Australia —1300 78 99 78.
- Relationships Australia — 1300 364 277.
Names and images have been changed to protect the identity of the people we help.
1 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2021): Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2021
2 AIHW Specialist homelessness services annual report 2021–22
3 Mission Australia (2022): Mission Australia Annual Report 2021-22
4AIHW: Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia: continuing the national story (2019)
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