Anti-Poverty Week, October 15 – 27, brings worrying stats to the forefront of the nation.
- Specialist Homelessness Services clients with disability were 43 percent more likely than those without disability to be homeless, rather than at risk of homelessness, when they started receiving support
- Homelessness Australia’s submission to the National Housing and Homelessness Plan stated that one in 10 Australians will experience homelessness in their lifetime
- The submission reported that First Nations people confront a homelessness rate almost 10 times that of other Australians
A survey of 1,700 Australians who have used The Salvation Army’s services found that 73 percent of vulnerable people are experiencing mental health challenges from financial distress.
Mental health and emotional well-being were among the greatest challenges for seven in 10 respondents over the past year, as the majority acknowledged that their mental health struggles had a negative impact on their ability to take care of themselves and their families, as well as their capacity to manage their finances, employment and housing situations.
Homelessness Australia’s Chief Executive Officer Kate Colvin said that homelessness is a growing national crisis, the harsh brunt of which is felt by First Nations people, women, children and those exposed to climate change.
“The structural failures and policy gaps, especially in housing affordability and support for vulnerable people, are pushing more people into a strained system,” the CEO explained.
Australia can end homelessness within a decade if it commits to building 50,000 social and affordable homes per year, expands Commonwealth Rent Assistance to reduce rental stress and pivots government services towards the prevention rather than symptoms of homelessness, according to the peak body.
“The homelessness system is simply not resourced to assist people in need,” Ms Colvin said.
“The sad reality is that 72,000 people were turned away from homelessness services in 2021 – ‘22 alone. This is a reflection of real human suffering and trauma. It is intensifying daily.
“We must pivot to preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place. The duty to assist someone at risk of homelessness must be woven through the fabric of all government services. Nobody should exit a government service into homelessness.”
The Salvation Army’s survey revealed that the cost-of-living crisis has also impacted people’s physical health, with 66 percent of respondents reporting their health deteriorated and 38 percent reporting their health was more difficult to treat.
Homelessness Australia called for the following recommendations to be implemented in the National Housing and Homelessness Plan:
- A commitment from the Commonwealth and States to end homelessness within 10 years and halve it within five, developing measurable targets and indicators on levels of rent stress, exits from care and eviction rates
- A commitment to build 50,000 social and affordable homes each year
- A restructure of and increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance payments
- A plan to strengthen mainstream support services
“Housing stress is the fastest-growing cause of homelessness, with an astonishing 27 percent increase from 2018 to 2022,” Kate added.
“Commonwealth Rent Assistance simply hasn’t kept up with the reality of a white-hot rental market. Eligibility for it must be expanded beyond those who receive income support.”
The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute reported that people with disability in Australia are at greater risk of homelessness than the general population, with the highest risk groups being people with psychological, intellectual and mental health disability as well as those with difficulties in schooling and employment.
“A national commitment is overdue,” Ms Colvin said.
“Homelessness is entirely solvable and Australia has all the resources and insight necessary to end it within a decade. All we lack is the political and financial commitment.”
Are you at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness? Please reach out to the following resources:
ACT: OneLink — 1800 176 468
NSW: Link2Home — 1800 152 152
QLD: Homelessness Persons Information — 1800 474 753
SA: Emergency Shelter and homelessness — 1800 003 308
TAS: Communities Tasmania Housing — 1800 800 588
VIC: Crisis and emergency accommodation — 1800 825 955
WA: Homelessness Advisory Service — 1800 065 892
Let the team at Talking Disability know your thoughts on the drastic rise of people experiencing homelessness and the proposed changes.