Homelessness Australia, the national peak body representing homelessness services, launched its Homeless Persons’ Week 2013 campaign The Hidden Homeless this week. The campaign will run from Monday 5 August to Sunday 11 August 2013.
The group of people who find themselves homeless in Australia is diverse. There are many reasons why someone may find him or herself homeless. Homeless Persons’ Week 2013 will shine the spotlight on the ‘hidden homeless’, and on the need to strengthen strategies to ensure that we halve homelessness by 2020 and, in the future, end it.
More than 105,000 people in Australia experience homelessness on any given night, and just six per cent of them are sleeping rough. Others are in specialist homelessness services, boarding houses, hotels or motels, or sleeping on the floor or the couch at someone else’s place.
“Hidden homelessness is harder to count,” Homelessness Australia Chairperson, Narelle Clay AM, said. “Young people staying temporarily with friends or friends’ families, or women and children bunking down with relatives, don’t always identify themselves as homeless – and neither may their hosts.”
“Although this kind of hospitality is increasingly common, it can place real strain on everyone involved,” Ms Clay said. “Even more severe is the pressure on Aboriginal people in remote areas, or new migrants in western Sydney, where you find 10 or 11 people squashing into accommodation designed for a single family.”
Homelessness Australia is increasingly concerned about the number of older people, particularly women, at risk of homelessness due to the housing crisis.
“A life crisis – loss of a job, a partner, or a long-term tenancy – can precipitate someone who has enjoyed secure housing all her life, and who is not accustomed to asking for help, into homelessness,” Homelessness Australia’s Acting CEO Lynne Evans said. “Our members, who provide many services besides accommodation – shopping vouchers and phone cards, bathroom and laundry facilities and counselling to name just a few – assist more and more people who are just one pay packet or welfare payment away from homelessness.”
Homeless Persons’ Week sees cities and towns across Australia hosting events to raise awareness about homelessness. “Homeless Persons’ Week is a great opportunity for people in the community to learn more about homelessness, its causes and solutions. People can do this by going to our website for information on events countrywide, to read or download fact sheets on homelessness, or by joining Homelessness Australia. The week also provides an opportunity for homelessness service providers to showcase the fantastic work that they do,” Ms Evans said.
“With 2013 being a federal election year, Homeless Persons’ Week provides an opportunity for the major political parties to consider ways in which they might keep the objective of ending homelessness on the national agenda,” Ms Evans added.
For statistics on the homeless in Australia, click this link http://www.homelessnessaustralia.org.au.