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:
Fact 1 There are over 116,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night
With a relatively small population, it’s alarming to think that on any given night, more than 116,000 people experience homelessness in Australia.1 People experiencing homelessness are among the most vulnerable in our community. In fact, over 25,000 people without a stable home are aged 18 or younger2 and more than 18,000 people over 55 years are homeless.3
Fact 2 Only 7% 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 7% of people that lacked safe and adequate shelter sleep on the streets, according to the 2018 Census.4
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.
Fact 3 Over 15,800 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 under 500 children will experience the harshest form of homelessness, relying on parks, bus shelters or shop fronts for warmth.5
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.
Fact 4 70% 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. Seventy 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.6
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.
Fact 5 Domestic and family violence is one of the main reasons why people experience homelessness
Domestic and family violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness in Australia.
On average, one woman every week in Australia is killed as a result of domestic violence. This threat to their safety means many women and their children are forced to leave their homes, often with nowhere to go.
In 2021, Mission Australia assisted 22,080 people through 75 homelessness and housing services. Through our services we can provide mothers like Amy, who escaped domestic violence a safe place to call home.
Every Australian should have a safe home
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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).
*Names changed to protect the people we help
1 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018): Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2016
2 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018): Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2016
3 AIHW (2020) Specialist homelessness services 2019-20
4 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018): Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2016
5 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018): Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2016
6 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018): Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2016
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