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In contrast to common misperceptions about homelessness, children are among Australia’s homeless population. In fact, children in homeless families are the largest single group seeking support. These families and children have to sleep rough, seek alternate shelter or are referred to emergency accommodation; which also house drug addicts, convicted criminals and the mentally ill.

Family breakdown and domestic violence are two of the main reasons young Australians feel they must escape their existing circumstances, even though the alternative is risky and uncertain. Homeless youth are highly likely to become homeless adults, if they survive that long.

In 2007–08, the homeless service system supported 76,900 children and their families. The system assisted an additional 24,900 people aged 18 or under, who approached a service without a parent or guardian. Showings that 21 per cent of those assisted by homeless services were under the age of 18.

One in every 39 Australian children under 5 years of age accessed a homeless assistance service last year. Every day, two in every three children who request immediate accommodation are turned away from homeless services.

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HOMELESSNESS AFFECTS KIDS

The early years of life are crucial for the development of children. Safe and stable living environments ensure a child’s long-term well-being, the fulfilment of their potential and strong, healthy communities. Children’s health and education are greatly affected by homelessness. Additionally, children who have been homeless are more likely to have been victims of crime and to have been involved in criminal activities. Many homeless children have experienced or witnessed domestic violence first hand. Many have also been victims of other crime or been involved in criminal activities themselves. Children who have been homeless are more likely than others to find themselves homeless as adults. Homelessness can, unfortunately, become a way of life.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Most families who are homeless consist of women and children escaping domestic violence. Two thirds of children accommodated in homeless assistance services in Australia have witnessed or been victims of domestic or family violence. Children who experience or witness domestic violence may suffer severe psychological trauma, distress and depression. Children who experience or witness domestic violence are more likely to become victims or perpetrators of violence or abuse in their adult relationships later in life.

FOSTERCARE

A Create Foundation report, released this year, found; 80 per cent of young Victorian adults did not know if they had a plan for life after care. 35 per cent of Australians in care surveyed reported being homeless in the year after leaving care.29 per cent said they were unemployed after leaving care.

FAST FACTS

1 in 200 people are homeless.

that’s over 116,000 people

7,483 are families with children

17,842 are children under 12 

26,226 are young people 12 to 24

56% are Male and 44% are female.

17,842 children aged under 12 are homeless

42% are under the age of 25

thats 44,068 young Australians
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WHERE ARE PEOPLE STAYING

39% in “severly” overcrowded dwellings

20% in supported accommodation

17% in boarding houses

17% temporarily staying in other households

6% in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out

1% in other temporary lodgings

YOUNG PEOPLE

Spend less time in school

May move schools up to 5 times per year

Are more likely to leave school altogether

Two thirds of young people who become homeless leave school within 12 months.

Experience low levels of safety & security

Have low self-esteem & increased anxiety, behavioural issues and mental illness

Are likely to become homeless later in life & raise families who, also become homeless

Have lower immunisation rates

Have higher rates of asthma, recurrent ear infections, vision problems and eczema

Are reliant on hospital emergency for health care