Family violence greatest cause of demand for specialist homelessness services

Homelessness Australia

Family violence is the greatest factor prompting people to seek homelessness support services, as a new report reveals overall demand for services has increased at twice the rate of population growth.

The alarming surge in demand is revealed in Launch Housing’s Australian Homelessness Monitor, authored by University of New South Wales (City Futures Research Centre) and University of Queensland.

The average monthly number of specialist homelessness service users grew from 84,800 persons in 2017-18 to 91,300 persons in 2021-22, an increase of 8%, double population growth.

Housing affordability stress was the fastest growing reason people sought specialist homelessness services, rising 27% over the four years to 2021-22. The monitor found homelessness had surged in regional Australia by 13 per cent (more than double the rate of state capitals), with regional Western Australia and regional Queensland surging by 35 per cent and 29 per cent respectively, since 2018-19

Homelessness Australia chief executive, Kate Colvin, said it was deeply concerning that despite prominent discussion about women’s safety during the period in question, family violence remained the greatest cause of people seeking specialist homelessness services.

“As if we need reminding, this report tells us that soothing rhetoric won’t cut it. Women and children are being forced to make an impossible choice between violence and homelessness.

“Homelessness services are simply overwhelmed by demand. The rental housing crisis has pushed an already overwhelmed system to breaking point. Significant additional investment in homelessness services is needed just to keep up with demand, let alone find homes and support for people trying to escape dangerous situations.

“The Commonwealth’s recent moves to expand social and affordable housing are very welcome, but the scale of ambition will need to lift as will payments such as Commonwealth Rent Assistance.

“The upcoming action plan to end violence against women and children, and the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement are ideal opportunities for the state and commonwealth governments to really focus on what meaningful change looks like, along with the resources required to deliver it.”

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