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.
• 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 age 12-24
• 56% are Male & 44% are Female
• 17,842 children aged under 12 are homeless
• 42% are under the age of 25 (that’s 44,068 young Australians)
HOW HOMELESSNESS AFFECTS KIDS
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
- 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 then, unfortunately, become a way of life.
FOSTERCAREA Create Foundation report, released this year, found;
- 80% of young Victorian adults did not know if they had a plan for life after care.
- 35% of Australians in care surveyed reported being homeless in the year after leaving care.
- 29% said they were unemployed after leaving care.
- 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.
WHERE PEOPLE ARE STAYING• 39% in “severely” 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