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The types of Australians that are most likely to experience homelessness will surprise you

9 August 2018 Wesley Mission news

Homelessness is a complex social issue that can affect anyone. However, there are certain groups of people in the Australian community who are far more likely to experience homelessness than others. Unlike common perceptions, these groups are independent of those with drug and alcohol abuse. Here are three types of people who are most likely to experience homelessness in Australia.

Unfortunately, children under the age of 18 represent about ¼ of all people experiencing homelessness in Australia. Furthermore, people under the age of 35 account for about 60% of Australia’s homeless.

Children almost always experience homelessness along with their other family members, and are most likely accompanied by a single mother. Some of the most common reasons children find themselves in this situation is due to increasing housing stress, whereby their parents are no longer able to keep up with rising costs of living, as well as escaping domestic and family violence.

Homelessness has a severe impact on children, being linked to developmental delays, behavioural problems, and higher rates of health issues such as asthma, inflectional illness, nutritional defects and poor mental health.

Older Women
Older women are emerging as one of the groups most susceptible to experiencing homelessness. With a growing number of people over the age of 55 experiencing homelessness for the first time, there are many reasons why older women are some of the most vulnerable.

Gender inequality in the workforce is one of them. With a history of pay inequality, plus time off from full-time work to have children and raise families, older women often have insufficient superannuation and savings to fund the cost of living. Research also suggests that older women are being forced out of the workforce early, which puts additional pressure on their superannuation to stretch further.

Many personal factors also increase the likelihood for older women to fall victim to homelessness. These include the death of an income-earning spouse, as well as separation and divorce, abuse and serious illness.

Indigenous People
While Indigenous people represent less than 3% of the Australian population, Indigenous Australians account for about 20% of those experiencing homelessness in Australia. In fact, Aboriginal people are 15 times more likely than non-Aboriginal Australians to sleep rough.

The reasons behind this startling rate are complex. Cultural differences in the concept of home, as well as extensive kinship groups, connection to traditional land and law are some of these. Standardised social housing is often inadequate to accommodate Aboriginal families and kinship groups, and as a result, many Indigenous people live in severely overcrowded dwellings.

Living in remote locations, away from social services, as well as higher rates of domestic and family violence, are also significant contributors to this cultural over-representation.

While anyone can experience homelessness, everyone can do their bit to help prevent it. During this Homelessness Awareness Week, we urge everyone to take action to combat homelessness. From donating your time, money or raising awareness, here are some key ways you can make a difference.