Homelessness is a serious problem in Australia, and it only seems to be getting worse, even outpacing population growth in the country.

To understand the gravity of the situation, Launch Housing has commissioned a new study, The Australian Homelessness Monitor 2018 (the Monitor), which will provide a first-of-its-kind authoritative insight into the current state of homelessness in Australia.

Launched recently in Melbourne, the study is being carried out by researchers at the University of NSW Sydney and the University of Queensland.

Described as the ‘first national longitudinal study of homelessness’ in Australia, the Monitor tracks key data on rates and types of homelessness in Australia and sets a benchmark for action on Australia’s housing crisis. These research findings are expected to inform state and federal policies framed to address homelessness.

Observing that Australia’s housing market was at breaking point with more people experiencing homelessness than ever before due to rising costs of living, high rental costs and harsher income support penalties, Launch Housing CEO Tony Keenan said their company had a combined history of more than 75 years serving the homeless in the Melbourne metropolitan area, and was committed to ending homelessness.

According to Keenan, homelessness is a problem that can be fixed with the right data and information. The Monitor brings together multiple data sources and analysis, qualitative survey information from key informants and state-by-state breakdowns.

The research has helped the company connect all the dots to inform a fully-fledged picture of why homelessness is such a dire issue in Australia.

The Monitor shows the direct relationship between government policies and levels of homelessness with factors such as lack of affordable housing, cuts to social security, lower wages and higher housing prices contributing to the problem.

With the Monitor showing how inaction by Governments and decision-makers has led to an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness, Keenan added that the problem of housing affordability needs to be addressed jointly by the Australian Government, the states and territories.

The Australian Homelessness Monitor should inform the development of a national housing plan with steps also to be taken to create more social and affordable rental homes, stop cutting income support to low income families and increase rent assistance.

Key data from the first Australian Homelessness Monitor:

  • 28 percent increase in the number of elderly people experiencing homelessness;
  • 20 percent increase in the number of people who are sleeping rough;
  • 613,000 people including 229,000 children have fallen below the poverty line due to increased housing costs;
  • Housing prices vs falling wages: National property prices have increased by 80 percent in the last 10 years while median household incomes rose by 40 percent;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 10 times more likely to experience homelessness;
  • 22 percent increase in demand for homelessness services nationwide between 2011 and 2016.