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This article describes homelessness in Australia. The majority of long term homeless people are found in the large cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. It is estimated that on any given night approximately 105,000 people will be homeless.
A person is considered to be homeless in Australia if they:
There was 105,237 people experiencing homelessness in Australia on Census night 2011. This equates to 1 in 200 Australians This an increase of 17% from the 2006 Census, with the rate of homelessness increasing from 45/10,000 to 49/10,000.
People who are homeless in Australia are classified into one of six categories. These are:
56% of people experiencing homelessness on Census night were male and 44% female. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians were over-represented in homelessness data making up 25% of the homeless population, compared to 2.5% of the Australian population. 30% of those experiencing homelessness were born overseas above the % of the Australian population.
From 2006 to 2011 the number of people sleeping 'rough' decreased from 9% of the homeless population to 6% of the homeless population. There was also a significant increase (23%) in the number of people staying homelessness services.
|Domestic and family violence||25|
|Inappropriate of inadequate dwellings||10|
|Relationship or family breakdown||~6|
|Housing affordability stress||~5|
|Source: AIHW Specialist Homelessness|
Services data collection (2011-12)
The reasons for homelessness are many and varied and each individuals path to homelessness is different and unique. Some other reasons for homelessness are addictions exiting care (foster care system or prison system), barriers facing refugees, debt, disability, unemployment, lack of support, blacklisted, poverty and being kicked out of home.
The Road Home was launched by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in December 2008. This White Paper sets an ambitious target to halve homelessness by 2020 and offer supported accommodation to all rough sleepers who need it. Launching the White Paper, Kevin Rudd said, referring to the 105,000 homeless people in Australia "A country like this should not have this problem, so large and longstanding, without being addressed, It's time we had a decent solution to this problem that has been around for a long time."
The Road Home focuses future effort and investment into three strategies:
According to the 2006 census there were over 44,000 young people homeless, meaning that about 43% of the Australian homeless population are babies, children and youth under the age of 25. A particularly common form of youth homelessness in Australia is “couch surfing” whereby the homeless person relies on the support of friends to sleep on their couch or floor. Relationship breakdown and family conflict are often cited as common instigators of youth homelessness.
Some of the current homeless population in Australia were previously mentally institutionalised. Mass deinstitutionalisation of the mentally ill began in Australia during the 1980s, whereby people with a mental illness live in the general community under the policy of community release. The mentally ill are no longer supervised by health care workers, and are left to their own devices in regard to maintaining their personal medication regimens.