Shock figures: 1.5m Aussies at risk of homelessness

Many Australians are just a relationship break up, serious illness or job loss away from homelessness, new world-first research shows. Here’s where people are most at risk in your state.

More than 1.5 million Australians are just a relationship break up, serious illness or job loss away from becoming homeless.

World-first research released by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute today estimates how many people are at risk before they actually lose the roof over their head.

There were more than 488,000 people in NSW, more than 354,000 in Victoria and 345,000 in Queensland.

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Melbourne suburbs dominate the list of Victoria’s most at risk areas, with 22.6 per cent of Carlton residents in jeopardy, followed by Melbourne, at 19.8 per cent, and Flemington, 19.7 per cent.


New South Wales – 488,285

Most at risk areas: Warwick Farm, 21.1%, Fairfield, 20%, Ashcroft-Busby-Miller, 18.2%, Tamworth – West, 17.9%, Bidwill-Hebershem-Emerton, 17.7%.

Victoria – 354,718

Most at risk areas: Carlton, 22.6%, Melbourne, 19.8%, Flemington, 19.7%, North Melbourne, 17.4%, Clayton, 16.8%.

Queensland – 345,135

Most at risk areas: Kowanyama-Pormpuraaw, 47.5%, Palm Island, 46.2%, Torres Strait Islands, 43.4%, Yarrabah, 42.5%, Northern Peninsula, 42.1%.

South Australia – 124,067

Most at risk areas: APY Lands, 40%, Elizabeth, 23.4%, Smithfield-Elizabeth North, 20.4%, Christie Downs, 17.6%, Davoren Park, 17.5%, Adelaide, 17.1%.

Western Australia – 140,170

Most at risk areas: Roebuck, 32.9%, Halls Creek, 32.1%, Derby-West Kimberley, 30%, Leinster-Leonora, 20.8%, Mandurah, 18.6%.

Tasmania – 38,197

Most at risk areas: Bridgewater-Gagebrook, 23.11%, Ravenswood, 21.1%, Invermay, 21.1%, Mowbray, 20.7%, Rokeby, 16.9%.

Northern Territory – 22,888

Most at risk areas: Tiwi Islands, 48.1%, Yuendumu-Anmatjere, 46%, East Arnhem, 45.4%, Thamarrurr, 41.4%, West Arnhem, 41.4%.

ACT – 21,864

Most at risk areas: Reid, 17.2%, Belconnen, 14.7%, Turner, 14.6%, Dickson, 14%, Braddon, 13.6%.

Australia – 1,536,545

Source: AHURI, Launch Housing, Swinburne University

But the greatest risk of homelessness exists in isolated regional areas, with up to 48 per cent of some small remote communities like the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory at risk of losing the roof over their head if something went wrong in their life.

The report found those at greatest risk of homelessness were women, Indigenous Australians, those living by themselves or in a single-parent household, in poor health or who didn’t identify as heterosexual.

To be at risk, a person had to be subject to at least two factors of: low-income, discrimination, low social support, needing support to maintain their lifestyle or a tight housing market.

Lead researcher Deborah Batterham from Swinburne University and Launch Housing said Australia was the first country to estimate “at risk” and had done so to encourage the government to “turn off the tap upstream” with preventive measures.

Such methods would include increasing affordable rental supply and prioritising access to these homes for those with low incomes, as well as better health and disability support, greater connection with remote communities and keeping kids in school.

“The Covid-19 pandemic really highlighted this, that’s why the government increased income support,” Ms Batterham said.

Homelessness does not necessarily mean a person is sleeping rough and can include those who are couch surfing, using crisis accommodation or boarding houses.

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Originally published as 1.5m Aussies at risk of homelessness: AHURI research

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