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Homeless Rate Up - ABS

12 November 2012 at 12:11 pm
Staff Reporter
The rate of homelessness in Australia has risen 8% since 2006, according to the latest census figures by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Staff Reporter | 12 November 2012 at 12:11 pm


Homeless Rate Up - ABS
12 November 2012 at 12:11 pm

The rate of homelessness in Australia has risen 8% since 2006, according to the latest census figures by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The figures released by the ABS found that there were 105,237 people who were homeless on August 9, 2011, or 0.5% of the Australian population.

The ABS says although the homeless rate rose by 8% in the five years to 2011, the number of people who were homeless rose 17% in those five years which also reflects the increase in the population over that time.

“Most of the increase in homelessness between 2006 and 2011 resulted from the rise in the number of people living in severely crowded dwellings, up from 31,531 in 2006 to 41,390 in 2011. And about three quarters of the increase in the overall homelessness estimate to 2011 was accounted for by people who were born overseas,” the ABS report said.

Mission Australia’s Executive Leader of Community Services, James Toomey, said that the results were disappointing but not surprising.

“Of course these results are disappointing. We were hoping that we’d continue to see homeless numbers trending downwards from the 2006 Census, but I can’t say we’re surprised,” Toomey said.

“Over the last five years we’ve not seen any evidence that there are fewer homeless people – there’s been no reduction in demand at our services. Demand is as high as it’s ever been.

“But let’s be clear: without the Federal Government’s leadership in tackling homelessness since 2008, without the co-operation of the states and territories, and without the billions we’ve seen invested in new services and building social housing, we would be facing a far worse result. No question the numbers would be even higher.”

Hanover Welfare Services also said that the Census figures show a renewed need for the Australian and state governments to commit to a new National Partnership on Homelessness.

Hanover Welfare Services chief executive Tony Keenan said that the figures show that the current agreement and policy settings are beginning to show some positive results so now, more than ever, governments need to commit to a new partnership to solve this tragic national problem this Friday when they meet in Brisbane.

“The White Paper on Homelessness set a target to eliminate rough sleeping by 2020. The census figures indicate that efforts in this area are working with a reduction of 6% in rough sleepers,” Keenan said.

“Homelessness continues to be a significant national issue. With sound policy and cooperation between all levels of government, we firmly believe it is possible to reduce homelessness.”

On Census night 2011 the rate of homelessness was highest in the Northern Territory (731 per 10,000 persons) and lowest in Tasmania (32 per 10,000 persons).

Most homeless people were not sleeping rough or in improvised dwellings (only 6% of all homeless persons in 2011). The largest homeless group were people living in severely crowded dwellings accounting for 39% of the homeless.

The next largest group was people staying in supported accommodation for the homeless (20% of the homeless in 2011), with 21,258 people in this group in 2011, up 23% on the number in 2006.

At the time of the 2011 Census 60% of homeless people were aged under 35 years, compared to 46% for the general population.

This latest publication also presents estimates of people who were not homeless but who were living in some form of marginal housing on Census night. These include people who may be at risk of homelessness.

On Census night in 2011, there were 60,875 people (28 people per 10,000 persons) living in crowded dwellings just below the severe crowding threshold of homelessness.

There were another 4,504 people (2 people per 10,000 persons) living in improvised dwellings in a range of circumstances that do not meet the definition of homelessness, and 12,963 people (6 people per 10,000 persons) who were marginally housed in caravan parks.

For more information go to: Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness, 2011(cat. no. 2049.0).

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