Growing numbers of children are experiencing homelessness
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Growing numbers of children sleeping rough as cost of living and rental crisis impact

Growing numbers of children sleeping rough as cost of living and rental crisis impact

by Freya Lucas

March 28, 2023
A makeshift bed is shown with a blue blanket.

The latest Census data, captured in 2021, showed that 387 children were sleeping rough on Census night, a number which is expected to be much higher today as the dual impacts of a rapid rise in the cost of living, and the ongoing rental crisis impact families across the country. 


These figures serve as “a sobering reminder of the growing threat of housing stress and the need to grow homelessness support capacity to respond to growing community needs,” said Kate Colvin, CEO of Homelessness Australia.


“Australia is in the midst of its worst housing crisis in living memory. As one of the world’s wealthiest nations it is inconceivable that children are sleeping rough. We can and must do better.”


56 per cent of those experiencing homelessness at last Census were women and children, with Tasmania suffering the worst percentage increase in homelessness, increasing 45 per cent. More than 10 per cent of the national homeless population reside in the Northern Territory. 


“These statistics are alarming but they need to do more than shock. They need to galvanise action,” Ms Colvin added.


“Australia needs a three pronged approach strategy to end homelessness, starting with providing people with the homelessness support they need to have a genuine path out of homelessness. Instead of increasing investment, homelessness services are facing a funding cliff, with up to $65 million in federally funded homelessness support funding not confirmed beyond June 2023. Without this funding, homelessness services will have to reduce support capacity by more than 600 front line workers.”


In addition, Homelessness Australia would like to see levels of income support rise to be consistent with the cost of living, describing the current Commonwealth Rent Assistance payment as “woefully inadequate”. 


“An ongoing commitment to expand social housing by at least 25,000 homes a year would also provide more people on low and modest incomes with the stable, secure housing they need,” she said in closing. 


To learn more about the impact of unstable housing on children’s development, please see here

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