Mental health and homelessness are closely intertwined. Without the warmth, safety and security that comes from having a safe place to call home, it can be hard to manage your mental health. Likewise, people who experience a deterioration in their mental health are more likely to trigger additional challenges such as job loss, substance abuse and relationship breakdowns which in turn result in homelessness.

Three leading causes of homelessness in Australia

While homelessness is a complex issue that can affect men, women and children from various backgrounds. Three leading causes of homelessness in our communities include:

1. Domestic and family violence

In 2021-22, over 100,000 people who experienced domestic and family violence also required support from a specialist homelessness service1. Domestic and family violence can force people to leave an unsafe environment with little support and nowhere to go.

2. Mental health

A decline in mental health, and the experience of being homeless are often interrelated, affecting an individual’s self-confidence, ability to attain employment or sustain their tenancy. In 2021-22, over 80,000 people with a current mental health condition received support from a specialist homelessness service.1

Read more about mental health and its impact on homelessness. 

3. Housing unaffordability

For many Australians, the risk of losing their home is only one pay slip away. The high cost of rental housing combined with the lack of affordable housing options, particularly for low-income earners, can force many families and individuals out of their homes with no place to live.

The myth that homeless people ‘just need to get a job’

When people think about people who are homeless in Australia, the images that come to mind aren’t always accurate. It’s a common myth that being homeless is a 'choice’ and all it takes to escape homelessness is to 'get a job’. But it’s not always that simple for people in vulnerable situations who are often facing multiple complexities at once. 

For a start, most jobs will require proof of a physical address – and for someone who is rough sleeping, couch surfing or living in temporary accommodation, a physical address may be challenging to share. Other jobs require upfront costs for transport, equipment or clothing, which may be beyond reach for someone who is struggling to make ends meet.

Those experiencing homelessness often suffer from low self-esteem, a lack of confidence or a range of other mental health issues - which can make it incredibly challenging to ‘just get a job’.


Ben's journey out of homelessness

Ben is an incredibly determined, resilient man. He loves music, his family and baking.

In his early years, Ben was diagnosed with depression and anxiety as a teenager, struggled with his mental health and low self-esteem, turning to alcohol to cope..

"Growing up, I had very low self esteem, and very low self-worth, which was the reason I turned to substances to cope." - Ben. 

The cycle continued until 2016, when Ben, determined to turn his life around, showed up at a Mission Australia Centre in Sydney. Ben was welcomed by staff and with help from a dedicated case worker, Ben was given the rehabilitation and support he needed to manage his addiction and mental health.

Now, after years of hard work and perseverance, Ben is proudly overcoming his addiction and walking towards independence.

Ben plans to rejoin the workforce and stand again on his own two feet. Ben comes from a family of bakers, and it’s his ambition to follow in his family’s footsteps.

But like other people who have experienced homelessness, getting a job hasn’t been easy. As well as a lack of confidence and resources, Ben had unique challenges of his own. Thanks to dental support from Mission Australia, Ben was able to receive a new set of teeth to boost his confidence.

"Through the dental health clinic here, I'm going to have new teeth I'm looking forward to that."

Now Ben has the confidence and foundation to thrive! He’s working towards his dream of making his family proud and possibly opening his own bakery one day.

"I'm looking forward to building a new life for myself," says Ben. "This place has really paved the way for me to do that."

 We are so proud of Ben and his journey towards independence. 

Learn more about ending homelessness in Australia. 

1. AIHW (2022) Specialist Homelessness Services Annual Report 2021-22


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Purpose - 'Inspired by Jesus Christ, Mission Australia exists to meet human need and to spread the knowledge of the love of God'