The number of Aussies with mental health issues facing homelessness has doubled in a decade
11 October 2021 at 3:49 pm
“If you’re struggling and unable to work it is basically impossible to afford rent on the inadequate JobSeeker payment, and people who need it can’t get into social housing.”
The number of Aussies with mental health issues seeking homelessness assistance has doubled over the past 10 years, according to data from Homelessness Australia.
A look at the peak body’s monthly data, released to coincide with World Homelessness Day and World Mental Health Day (both 10 October), shows that between 2019-2020, 88,338 people with mental health issues sought homelessness assistance across Australia. This is up from 44,732 in 2011-12.
The most recent data demonstrates that the number continues to rise, with a further six per cent increase in assistance needed between June 2020 and June 2021.
With the loss of employment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbating Australia’s homelessness and mental health crises, Homelessness Australia’s chair Jenny Smith says better access to housing and income support is needed for struggling Australians.
“If you’re struggling and unable to work it is basically impossible to afford rent on the inadequate JobSeeker payment, and people who need it can’t get into social housing,” Smith said.
“Many also can’t access the mental health care they need, as they can’t afford it or face long queues through Medicare or hospitals.”
Smith said the increase in homelessness among people with mental health issues was shocking and should sound the alarm bells for the federal government to increase income support, and provide more social housing.
“The dire shortage of Housing First options in Australia, which provide access to long-term affordable housing as well as flexible wrap-around support, also means that the most vulnerable people with mental illness who are homeless do not get the housing and support they need,” she said.
“Lack of available housing and support means there is a revolving door for the most vulnerable people between homelessness services, acute mental health services, and rough sleeping.
“We know we can end homelessness for people with serious mental health issues with access to stable housing and support, but to make that possible for more people the federal government needs to urgently invest in more social housing in partnership with the states and territories.”