Homeless in Australia

This is a post originally written by my partner Charles and posted on our blog.

The latest Sydney City News reported the worsening homelessness situation in Sydney caused by increasing ‘rental rates, chronic unemployment and mental illness’. In the article, journalist Deepthi interviewed former homeless, Marcus Prentice, who said that the deprivation or ‘access to medical treatment’ is one of the major problems facing homeless people. Peter Holocraft, the manager of The Big Issue, a magazine dedicated to helping homeless people to ‘get back on their feet’, was also quoted as saying that rising rental rates have aggravated the situation.

According to the City of Sydney, its Homeless Person’s Information Centre (HPIC) received altogether 51,700 calls during the financial year of 2005 and 2006. Of these 59% required accomodation for the night the call was made. 350 people are estimated to be sleeping ‘roughly every night in Sydney’. The state government has also promised to tackle homelessness with the Common Ground Initiative, which will allow residents to stay for as long as they need. Access to outreach services such as drug and alcohol counselling, education and employment training will also be provided.

The recently released Australian Census on Homelessness in Australia shows that homelessness has increased to 105,000 on census night in 2006. Of these, 12% are under 12 years of age, and 21% from 12 to 18 years old. One of the problems associated with counting homelessness is the transienceness and different degrees of homelessness according to Chris Chamberlain who wrote ‘Counting the Homeless, 2006‘. Homelessness Australia, an NGO dedicated to the ending homelessness, argued that the increase of 5,000 homeless people in Australia (based on the ABS figures) meant that there is an urgent need for increased funding to tackle the homelessness issue. They include areas in homeless support services and early intervention strategies.

– Reports –

Australian Homelessness – Australian Census 2006

Homelessness Australia – Media Release on Australian Census Figures

The Big Issue FAQ on Homelessness

3 Responses

  1. A combined figure of 33% of homeless people being under 18 is really disheartening. One can only imagine what these kids have to resort to in order to get by.

    Sadly, our society turns a blind eye to the plight of homeless people. Until people’s attitude changes, I cannot see the situation improving.

  2. A roof over my head, food on the table & a loving, protective family are all things I suppose I’ve been lucky enough to take for granted.
    Not all are so fortunate, a tragedy in such an amazingly well off country as ours. It simply should not be so.

    Interesting point reb. Indeed, during my life in Adelaide I was propositioned a couple of times in the metro-area by “kids” just looking for a buck. I almost felt patronising giving them $20 bucks with no strings attached & they always looked surprised which leads me to think that many people in fact do take advantage of their misfortune.
    What is the price of human dignity?
    It must be a very hard pit to scramble out of once you’re in it.
    I’ve never begrudged paying taxes but certainly feel that such issues should be prioritised when it comes down to dividing up the revenue. I don’t see the point in wasting untold millions on Olympic Games, World Youth Days or other grandiose pageantry when such problems as homelessness exist at the margins of “comfortable society”.

  3. I’m a little late I think re a comment, so just in precis. A factor contributing to the current situation in the USA is a chronic underinvestment in public housing over the past decade. Australia followed suit.

    However, the slack was taken up by the banks providing no deposit/low doc loans. That is, people who would normally have had access to public housing were instead provided with no doc/no deposit loans.

    With no competition at the lowest end of the market, the cost has been driven up, and up and up.

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