National Homelessness Week (1-7 August) raises awareness of homelessness in Australia and the importance of social housing as a long-term solution.

During National Homelessness Week, people are encouraged to get involved by helping raise awareness and hosting events.

Mission Australia is committed to ending homelessness in Australia. As part of National Homelessness Week, we’ll be sharing stories of homelessness, providing helpful information and resources, and encouraging different ways to get involved on our social channels.

Homeless mother and daughter in their car looking worried

What is homelessness and does it exist in Australia?

Homelessness is an issue that can affect anyone. In Australia there are over 116,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night.1

Although the most visible experience of homelessness involves people sleeping rough on the streets, homelessness also includes living in temporary accommodation such as cars, couch surfing, or emergency shelters.

Homelessness can be triggered by a range of systemic, structural and individual factors including social disadvantage, financial hardship, poor health and more. Sadly, a leading cause of homelessness in Australia is domestic and family violence. Others can find themselves without a home through unexpected circumstances such as a relationship breakdown, loss of a job or death of a loved one.

Learn more about the common causes of homelessness.

Hidden experiences of homelessness

Homelessness is a problem affecting our entire community. It can happen to anyone through no fault of their own. Here are some lesser-known experiences of homelessness.

Youth homelessness

Rebecca* is a young person who became homeless during her final year of school. Growing up in an unstable household was difficult, but a violent situation made her fear for her safety. Devastated to leave behind her younger sisters, she left home with nowhere to go.

Unfortunately, Rebecca is not alone; 1 in 6 young people in Australia have been homeless2. This experience early in life can have a detrimental effect for young people’s mental health, education and overall wellbeing.

Her school learned of her situation and connected her with our Youth Accommodation and Support Service (YASS) in Perth. Our team at YASS provided her with a safe place to stay and supported her through the final year of high school.

One in six (17%) young people aged 15 – 19 who responded to Mission Australia’s Youth Survey, 2019 have been homeless. 

Older women at risk of homelessness

Carol’s* life took an unexpected turn when her beloved husband, Tom, passed away. Tom had taken the lead in looking after the couple’s finances and bills, and after his death, Carol struggled to afford the mortgage on her own.

The death of her husband left Carol with no options; she was evicted from her home and became homeless.

Did you know, women over the age of 55 are the fastest growing group of people seeking assistance from homelessness services?3

Becoming homeless later in life seems unimaginable, but this is the sad reality for many older women like Carol. Financial instability, death of a loved one or unexpected illness makes it difficult to find affordable housing or maintain a home.

Woman is looking away sadly. ”No one knew I was homeless. I always thought this would be temporary but it’s starting to feel like forever.” – Carol

Five ways to get involved during National Homelessness Week 2021

1. Stay informed

Learn about the causes, effects and extent of homelessness in our communities and be equipped with knowledge to help tackle the issue. Accurate information is essential as it helps us understand the issues facing vulnerable people, which in turn will help us help them.

2. Speak up and raise awareness

Your voice and influence matters to the people around you. Simple things like reposting Mission Australia’s content on your social media channels can ignite important conversations with your network.

3. Make a donation

A one-off contribution or monthly donation will go towards practical support and care to vulnerable people faced with homelessness.

4. Write to your local council and MPs

Advocate to your local council, State and Federal MPs, insisting on increased investment in social and affordable housing in your area.

5. Pledge your support of the Everybody’s Home campaign

Add your name if you think everybody should have a home and join us in advocating for more social and affordable housing across Australia.


*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the people we help. 

1Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016) Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness, 2016
2Mission Australia, Mission Australia Annual Youth Survey (2019)
3Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness (2016)

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