“Homeless Persons Week is an opportunity for us all to reflect on how we can enrich the lives of homeless people. It’s important that all Australians recognise our homeless community as valuable members of society, many of whom are living on the streets or in shelters after a sudden change in their circumstance has led to their misfortune. I’ve met an Ansett pilot, an Olympic athlete and a lawyer, all living rough. Proof that it’s a fine line between having enough and having absolutely nothing.”
– Sarah Garnett, Founder.
Homeless Persons’ Week (HPW) is an annual event to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness and the issues they face. This year the focus is on the Hidden Homeless – 94% of people who are homeless are not on the streets.
HPW came about when various organisations began running winter vigils to remember people who had died on the streets. These vigils were normally held in August as it is the coldest time of the year and when most people were likely to be overcome by the elements. The week is coordinated by Homelessness Australia
According to the 2011 Census there are 105,237 people who are homeless in Australia (source: ABS) which is a rate of 49 persons in every 10,000 (or just under 0.5% of the population).
Some other key findings:
56% of people who are experiencing homelessness are male, 44% female
39% of people who are experiencing homelessness are living in “severely overcrowded dwellings”
6% of people who are experiencing homelessness are sleeping rough (improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out)
27% of those experiencing homelessness are in NSW, followed by 22% in VIC
The NT has the highest rate of homelessness with 730 per 10,000 people, followed by the ACT with 50 per 10,000. TAS has the lowest rate of homelessness with 31.9 per 10,000
Source: Homelessness Australia
Image credit: Jacques by Angela Pelizzari 2013 – see it at Acknowledged : Sydney’s Homeless. A free exhibition at the State Library of NSW from 29 July until 6 October 2013. Monday, Wednesday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Tuesday 9am to 8pm, Weekends 10am to 5pm. For more info http://www.sydneyhomelessconnect.com