Homelessness is about more than not having a home; a home means a sense of security, stability, privacy, safety, and the ability to control living space (Mallet, 2004). Despite steady economic growth in Australia, homelessness increased by 14% between the 2011 and 2016 censuses. There are now said to be 116,427 people without a permanent home in Australia. This means that for every 10,000 Australians, 50 are homeless. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which released the data, estimates that more than 43,500 homeless people are under the age of 25.
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of people who experience homelessness aren’t rough sleepers (living on the streets). In fact, rough sleeping only makes up around 7% of homelessness while the remainder is ‘hidden homelessness’, that is, people sleeping in cars, rooming houses, couch surfing, or staying in other temporary types of accommodation.
It is for this reason that the ABS defines someone as homeless if their current living arrangement:
- is in a dwelling that is inadequate; or
- has no tenure, or if their initial tenure is short and not extendable; or
- does not allow them to have control of or, access to space for social relations
What happens if I find myself homeless – who can I call to get help?
- Homeless hotline phone: 1800 474 753
Homeless Hotline is a phone information and referral service for people who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness.
There are many other helpful service providers that can assist which include:
- Kids Help Line phone: 1800 551 800
- The Salvation Army (Salvos) phone: 13 72 58
- St Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies) phone: 07 3010 1096
- Ozcare phone: 1800 692 273
- Lifeline phone: 13 11 14
If you would like to help someone who is homeless, you can always volunteer at a homeless shelter or donate items that you are no longer using to a charity organisation or someone in need. A little bit can go a long way and anything is better than nothing when it comes to helping others in need.