Australia is experiencing a homelessness emergency; but it’s hard to see...
Homelessness exists in Australia. It’s a fact that’s confirmed on Census night.
The latest Census showed that more than 122,000 people were experiencing homelessness on Census night, an increase of five percent in five years.1
The numbers are clear— Australia is experiencing a homelessness emergency. But on our streets and in our communities, homelessness can seem hidden and far from view.
Homelessness can be hidden
Homelessness in Australia is largely hidden, affecting people behind closed doors. The term ‘hidden homelessness’ describes the experience of people relying on temporary forms of accommodation such as couch surfing, living in a refuge or sleeping in overcrowded and unsafe environments.
Hidden homelessness is getting worse
Our latest report, A Safe Place to Call Home reveals a growing demand for homelessness and housing services like ours.
Over the past three years, our homelessness services experienced a 26% increase in demand, and a 50% increase in people who are seeking help after they’ve become homeless rather than when they are at risk.^
What does this mean?
More people are asking for help from homelessness and housing support services and alarmingly, the situation is worse now than three years ago.
How we help people avoid homelessness in Australia
With rising cost-of-living and a shortage in affordable housing across communities in Australia, it’s no surprise that a significant number of people are facing the unthinkable: homelessness, financial instability and poverty.
Our services take a ‘housing-first’ approach to prevent people in need from experiencing homelessness Data gathered from our services over the last three years demonstrates that our approach works, and our services are helping people at risk of homelessness achieve positive outcomes.
What we found:
- 94% of people at risk of homelessness remained living in their home and had their tenancy support needs met.
- 8 in 10 (81%) experienced improved wellbeing;
- 9 in 10 (89%) made progress with their goals, including education and employment.^
In our report, people with lived experience of hidden homelessness or housing instability told us their stories:
What has been the most significant change for people experiencing homelessness and housing instability?
"Getting a house, getting out of the situation I was in, as it wasn’t good and wasn’t safe. [This is important] because it made me happier, it made me heal more as a person. It kept me safe and gave me independence on my own."
"Guidance and support to make important decisions in my life. Increased awareness of services locally to support me with my tenancy…It has improved my confidence and ability to reach out for help when I need extra support.”
Ending homelessness in Australia, for good!
With an escalating demand for homelessness and housing support services, the vital work of our frontline staff remains as important as ever. With help from our community of supporters, our staff can continue to help the growing number of women, men and children who are facing the risk of homelessness in Australia.
We also found that the longer our staff were working to provide people in need with support, the more likely those people were to exit homelessness.
Our work is helping but our efforts to find long-term housing for people is constrained by the lack of affordable housing available across the country. Sadly, Mission Australia and other homelessness services are only able to find a secure long-term home for a third (31%) of people experiencing homelessness.^
That’s why our approach to ending homelessness also involves collaborating with organisations across the sector to provide key recommendations to the government, and advocate for more social and affordable homes for those in need. Read more about our research, impact and policy.
Passionate about ending homelessness in Australia?
You can support our critical work in preventing homelessness and supporting people in need to thrive.
Learn more about our work and how you can get involved with these resources:
Download your copy of A Safe Place to Call Home Report for more information on homelessness in Australia.
1 ABS (2021) Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness
^ Data reflects three year period. Read the full report: A Safe Place to Call Home - Mission Australia's Homelessness and Stable Housing Impact Report
Related news and stories
Read about what we’ve been working on, our stance on important social issues and how you make a difference to vulnerable Australians' lives.