Homelessness is a complex issue with many causes. Domestic violence, a shortage of affordable housing, unemployment, mental illness, family breakdown and drug and alcohol dependence all contribute to the level of homelessness in Australia. Both Federal and State governments have invested in significant initiatives in an attempt to halve the level of homelessness by 2020. These initiatives have changed the environment in which services for the homeless operate.
On 9 August 2011, the Australian Bureau of Statistics collected updated census data on homelessness, which found that there were 105,237 people who were homeless or 0.5% of the Australian population. 19,838 of these were in Queensland. 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 population increases.
To us, a person is homeless if they are living in:
- Improvised dwellings or ‘sleeping rough’
- Short-term or emergency accommodation
- Temporary arrangements without security of tenure; for example, staying with friends or relatives, in boarding houses or motels
- Unsafe or inadequate accommodation; for example, where domestic/family violence or abuse threatens the person’s safety or there is severe overcrowding.