Inverell Service’s Critical Concerns About Homelessness Rise in Australia

More than 116,000 people were experiencing homelessness across Australia in 2016, an increase of about 14 per cent from 2011. 

Pathfinders' Trish, Daisy and Tim at their White Ribbon awareness stall at last year’s Sapphire City Festival.

Pathfinders' Trish, Daisy and Tim at their White Ribbon awareness stall at last year’s Sapphire City Festival.

Interestingly in Inverell, 49 people were homeless on Census night in 2011 while only 42 people reported being homeless in 2016.

While the recorded number of homeless people locally was 42, Pathfinders’ Inverell and Glen Innes SHS program helped 470 people last year alone.

According to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), released on Wednesday, for every 10,000 Australians, 50 have no permanent home.

In addition, the jump in homelessness in NSW was larger than any other state or territory, increasing from 28,191 in 2011 to 37,715 last Census night.  

Pathfinders, a not-for-profit agency, runs a number of refuges, crisis accommodation and youth services for families and children in the New England North West.

The report also found that 34 per cent of the homeless population in 2016 were 24 years and younger. 

In Inverell and Glen Innes, 54.2 per cent of the 470 were 24 years and younger, including those in the Women and Children’s Refuge in Inverell. 

“Every day, we have local and inter-state people coming to our office seeking help because they don’t have a permanent home,” Daisy Brown, SHS Inverell support worker said. 

“It’s difficult for them to secure private rentals and access public housing, with many of them unable to keep up with rental costs or unable to get a rental reference, and they’ve already accessed crisis accommodation and aren’t sure where to go next.

“It’s not easy knowing what steps to take, especially with the extreme stress of homelessness – not having a place to go to or to sleep at night.” 

Pathfinders’ chief executive Alan Brennan said federal, state and local organisations needed to strengthen their efforts and commitment to helping the homeless find safe and secure accommodation. 

“Many people who seek our specialist homelessness support services not only struggle to keep up with rising housing costs but also face issues like domestic violence, substance abuse, unemployment and mental illness,” he said. 

“Finding or keeping employment, going to school, remaining in education and raising healthy families is increasingly difficult or nearly impossible for these youth and families who don’t have the security and safety of permanent accommodation.”

If you or someone you know is doing it tough, head to http://pathfinders.ngo/projects/shs/ for more information on how Pathfinders can help.