More than 116,000 people were experiencing homelessness across Australia in 2016, an increase of about 14% from 2011.
According to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), released on Wednesday, for every 10,000 Australians, 50 have no permanent home. In addition, the jump in homelessness in New South Wales was larger than any other state or territory, increasing from 28,191 in 2011 to 37,715 last Census night.
Alan Brennan, CEO of Pathfinders, says these concerning figures show the urgent need for federal, state and local organisations to strengthen their efforts and commitment to helping the homeless population find safe and secure lasting accommodation.
Pathfinders, a not-for-profit agency, runs a number of refuges, crisis accommodation and youth services for families and children in the New England North West, and supported more than 150 people in the Armidale Youth Refuge and 470 people through the Inverell and Glen Innes Services last year.
“Many people who seek our specialist homelessness support services not only struggle to keep up with rising housing costs but also face issues like domestic violence, substance abuse, unemployment and mental illness,” he said.
“Finding or keeping employment, going to school, remaining in education and raising healthy families is increasingly difficult or nearly impossible for these youth and families who don’t have the security and safety of permanent accommodation.”
Interestingly in Inverell, 49 people were homeless on Census night in 2011 while only 42 people reported being homeless on Census night in 2016.
While the recorded number in 2016 of homeless people in town was 42, Pathfinders’ Inverell and Glen Innes SHS program helped 470 people last year alone.
“Every day, we have local and inter-state people coming to our office seeking help because they don’t have a permanent home,” said Daisy Brown, SHS Inverell Support Worker.
“It’s difficult for them to secure private rentals and access public housing, with many of them unable to keep up with rental costs or unable to get a rental reference, and they’ve already accessed crisis accommodation and aren’t sure where to go next.
“It’s not easy knowing what steps to take, especially with the extreme stress of homelessness – not having a place to go to or to sleep at night.”
The report also found that 34% of the homeless population in 2016 were 24 years and younger. In Inverell and Glen Innes, 54.2% of the 470 people the Pathfinders’ SHS program helped last year were 24 years and younger, including those in the Women and Children’s Refuge in Inverell.
If you or someone you know is doing it tough, head to http://pathfinders.ngo/projects/shs/ for more information on how Pathfinders can help.
Pathfinders is a leading not-for-profit supporting disadvantaged children and families in the New England, North West and Mid North Coast regions. Every week we provide hundreds of families with the help they need to get back on their feet.
Media enquiries: Noelia Trujillo firstname.lastname@example.org or 0429371489
Inverell and Glen Innes SHS program staff (L to R: Jess Daley, Olivia Adams, Daisy Brown, Tim Chard and Trish Thomas [Manager])