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Australian Homelessness Monitor 2020


Hal Pawson, Cameron Parsell, Edgar Liu, Chris Hartley, Sian Thompson


The Australian Homelessness Monitor 2020 (AHM 2020) analyses changes in the scale and nature of homelessness in Australia, as well as its social and economic drivers. It also contains the first in-depth examination of the impacts of the worldwide COVID-19 public health crisis on housing markets and homelessness here in Australia.

Disturbingly, in the four years to 2018-19, homelessness climbed by 14% with around 290,000 Australians seeking help from specialist homelessness services.

Family violence was a leading factor with children and young people experiencing harm from abuse and from a lack of safe and secure housing. 30% of individuals supported by specialist homelessness services were under the age of 18 – that’s more than 85,700 children and young people.

Increasing numbers of older Australians also sought help from specialist services. In fact, they were the fastest growing group recording a 33% increase between 2014-15 and 2018-19.

Expenditure on homelessness ‘emergency services’ increased by 27% in the four years to 2018-19 and was set to exceed $1 billion this year, even before the pandemic. In contrast, investment in social housing solutions increased by just 4% over the same period. A lack of access to housing compromises the effectiveness of the support response and is costly in human and economic terms.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us just how critical housing is for our own health and those we live alongside. People experiencing homelessness, especially those sleeping rough, experience poor physical health and are at a significantly greater risk of harm from the virus.

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