Homelessness in Australia

Jeaun Lewis

Out of all the issues that someone could be facing, specifically at a time such as this, Homelessness and displacement are among the largest. The causes of homelessness are many including, but not limited to a low level of education that may lead to joblessness, family and domestic violence, physical and mental health issues, disability and substance abuse, with many of these being exacerbated by societal factors such as lack of housing,  and discrimination. When someone is homeless it does not mean necessarily that they are sleeping on the streets, with the term referring to people who do not have suitable accommodation and those who live in inadequate housing. The term can refer to those who

  • Live in improvised dwellings tents or a rough sleepers
  • lives in supported accommodation for the homeless
  • Are staying temporarily in other households
  • Are living in boarding houses
  • Live in temporary lodgings
  • Or live in severely crowded dwellings. 

The support by services who support the homeless also go towards helping those at risk of becoming homeless. According to the ABS people who are at risk of becoming homeless are those who live in public or community housing either as a renter or rent free, In private or other housing as a rental rent free or owner, or institutional settings.

According to the New South Wales government, in February 2020 there were approximately 334 people sleeping rough and 505 in occupied crisis in temporary accommodation beds. In Queensland in Cairns, pensioners, homeless people, backpackers, and grey nomads have set up at campsites sectioning off sites to comply with social distancing rules, with many not being able to afford the accommodation options offered by the Queensland housing department and other homeless support services. Thankfully local councils and police in these areas have taken a flexible approach, due to a lack of substantial help available for certain people. On March 26 the Queensland government announced are 24.7 million specialist homeless services package to provide immediate housing support to vulnerable residents during the COVID-19 crisis.

INCH Housing is an organisation that focuses on providing safe and affordable housing for the people of south east Queensland. The organisation has provided housing to over 1,665 individuals or families since 1991 and focus on supporting any displaced people or those who have suffered through family violence and find themselves on the street because of it. They also work to support families so that they do not end up back on the streets, and work alongside the Department of Public Works & Housing, Brisbane City Council, Government and non-Government support services and local businesses to give people a chance to get back on their feet

Beddown focuses on giving homeless and displaced people a safe and comfortable place to sleep in places that would otherwise be empty at night, such as carparks. Beddown hope to have a part in giving people back some safety, dignity, respect and health, as well as partnering with other services to provide laundry & showers, food & beverages, health & wellbeing services, and clothing. They also look to supporting people with the issues that forced them to become homeless and stay homeless such as mental health issues and alcohol and drug use. 

For my future story I intend to reach out to some of my contacts and follow up on a story that I wrote a year ago. I plan to contact Christine Grove from YFS (Youth and Family Services Inc), Pastor Jock Bamford from Loaves and Fishes and Branwen Mearns from Fishers of Men, as they were my previous contacts. I will also attempt to contact the partners focused on this topic that have not been contacted by others yet. This is an immensely important human rights issue, as all people, regardless of social strata and circumstances deserve to live under a roof and be able to feed themselves. Due to the coronavirus the issue is only going to get worse due to the amount of people who have lost jobs, revenue streams and entire types of jobs for the foreseeable future, no matter if restrictions get lessened.

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The Griffith University Social Impact Projects address five significant social justice issues faced by vulnerable communities. Expanding on the work done by Project Safe Space, and Project Open Doors, the Griffith University Social Impact Projects bring Community Partners, students and the University together to work collaboratively in the innovative solution design sprints. Initially designed to address Mental Health and Wellbeing of Griffith students, we soon realised this was a much larger issue intersecting across a number of social justice issues for students and the wider community. The Social Impact Projects aim to contribute in some small way to improving these social issues.