Hidden Homeless: New Data Reveals a Crisis

By: Mike Crooks

The scourge of homelessness is getting worse in Australia.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the data from the 2021 Census that revealed homelessness across the nation has risen by more than 5 per cent since 2016.

On the winter’s night the Census was taken, 122,494 people in Australia experienced homelessness.

Of those, 23 per cent were aged from 12 to 24 years.

“The 2021 Census gives us a unique snapshot of people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic,” ABS’s head of homelessness statistics Georgia Chapman said.

More Females Homeless

The ABS reported that the majority of those experiencing homelessness are males, with 68,000 homeless males recorded on Census night.

Meanwhile, the number of homeless females has increased by 10 per cent since 2016, to almost 54,000.

Sleeping Rough

Being homeless is not confined to those “sleeping rough” on the street.

In fact, the vast majority of the 122,000 is comprised of the “hidden homeless” – those who are sleeping in “severely overcrowded dwellings, boarding houses or temporarily with friends or family on Census night,” according to a Mission Australia statement.

“I’m not surprised that Australia’s homelessness figures have increased to more than 122,000,” Mission Australia CEO Sharon Callister said.

“The severe shortage of social and affordable housing, a private rental market that is extremely unaffordable across metro and regional Australia, and soaring cost of living are accelerating Australia’s housing and homelessness crisis.”

Indigenous Homeless

Of the more than 122,000 homeless, nearly 25,000 were estimated to be Indigenous Australians.

This figure is a rise of 6.4 per cent since 2016 and represents 20 per cent of the homeless in Australia.

“To address over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the homelessness system, we need far more new housing stock in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” Ms Callister said.

“Resourcing to support a strong Aboriginal Housing Sector is essential.”

Affordable Homes

Australia’s homelessness crisis “has been exacerbated by the long-term absence of a serious and sizeable commitment to building new social and affordable homes,” Ms Callister said.

To that end, the Federal Government has pledged a $10 billion fund to invest in new housing projects, but the bill has yet to pass the upper house.

The fund aims at providing 30,000 social and affordable homes.


But according to Mission Australia, the government’s plan to supply more housing falls short.

“Australia needs a long-term and far greater commitment from governments to build new social and affordable homes to meet the stark shortfall,” Ms Callister said.

“This is a nationwide issue that needs a commitment from everyone – all governments, the corporate sector, charities and individuals – if we are to have any hope of ending homelessness in Australia.”

A government review from 2021 calculated that 891,000 new social and affordable dwellings are needed across Australia within 20 years – at a cost of $290 billion.

Help at Hand

Meanwhile, for those who are suffering homelessness right now, there is help available.

Mission Australia says that the best course of action is to visit AskIzy, a not-for-profit social enterprise that links people with various support services.

For more information and help visit here.

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

Feature image: Photo by AR on Unsplash