Important Homeless Statistics and Facts
Homelessness is prevalent in Australia and is very common in large cities like Sydney and Brisbane. The homelessness statistics indicate that one (1) in every two hundred (200) Australians will be homeless on any given night. About 17, 845 of these homeless people are children under 10 years old. Owing to this surprising and devastating number, there is a need to look at the issue and work together to transform the situation.
How is Homelessness in Australia defined?
Homelessness in Australia is defined as a situation where a person does not have favorable accommodation and are currently living in any of the following circumstances:
- Staying in inadequate living spaces such as improvised dwellings or tents;
- There is short and un-extendable tenure or none at all;
- The living space makes it impossible to have control over social relations;
- Living in supported accommodation;
- Staying with other households;
- Using boarding houses or any other temporary lodging spaces; or
- Living in extremely overcrowded spaces.
These homeless statistics are based on the definition given by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Who are the homeless in Australia?
Homeless statistics, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics: Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness, 2012, shows that there are 56% males and 44% females who represent the homeless population. From these numbers, 25% of the homeless are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and 30% are born oversees.
Even though these numbers may be hard to believe, these are devastating facts about homelessness in Australia we must learn to accept.
Why are people homeless?
Several complicated situations have been blamed as the ultimate reasons behind these homelessness statistics. Let us take a look at some of these complex issues below:
- Rental housing is becoming more and more expensive. The number of homeless people in Australia is continuously increasing because it is very challenging to find budget-friendly housing in the country today.
- Violence at home. People leave their homes to escape from the violence they experience within their households. Ironically, they feel safer if they are away from home.
- Poverty that runs across generations. Australians who come from homeless families almost always end up being homeless.
- Unemployment. Due to the global economic crisis, many people have to deal with long-term unemployment. As a result, they struggle making ends meet and end up becoming homeless.
- Mental disability. People having mental problems and those who suffer from psychological distress are most likely to stray away from their homes or even from mental institutions where they have been admitted and end up being homeless.
- Exiting from penal institutions. Those who exit prisons find a hard time getting back to the real world due to few job opportunities. As a result, they suffer economically and many eventually end adding up to the homeless population.
There are many other reasons why people end up being homeless such as financial crisis, economic and social exclusion, exiting state care and severe overcrowding.
What are the impacts of homelessness in relation to the enjoyment of human rights?
Every person has innate human rights that are inviolable. Here, we take a look at the impacts homelessness on these human rights.
- Right to adequate standard of living. Under the international human rights law, every person has the right to an adequate standard of living. It is every State’s responsibility to provide an adequate living environment to its people. What adequate living is depends on a variety of factors including: security of tenure, affordability and accessibility of habitation, cultural adequacy and availability of materials and facilities for infrastructure.
- Right to safety. Homelessness makes someone much more vulnerable to personal attacks because of an unsafe living environment. Many homeless women and children end up suffering physical and sexual abuses. This can only be prevented if they live in safer surroundings and are not homeless anymore.
- Right to health. Homelessness prevents a person from enjoying the highest possible standard of health. Facts about homelessness generally state that it can lead to complicated health problems such as poor nutrition, substance abuse and depression. Studies have shown that people who are homeless end up suffering disabilities and long-term illnesses more than the average people. Furthermore, homeless people have less access to health care services because of financial problems and lack of medical insurance.
- Right to education. Despite the Government’s program of providing free or affordable education to all, there are still a considerable amount of homeless people who leave school because of financial problems associated with additional school costs like books, materials and clothes. Another factor that contributes to why homeless people remain out of school is the lack of family support which every student needs.
- Right to privacy. People who are homeless are forced to do private things in public places thereby having privacy rights violated. For instance, homeless people sleep, eat and sometimes bathe in public because they have no choice.
Certainly, homelessness is not only an Australian problem. It affects many people across the world and most significantly the third world countries. By primarily knowing some homelessness facts and statistics, we can start to accept this global issue and perhaps begin to develop solutions for it.