Rough statistics point to crisis
HOMELESSNESS does not have a postcode and does not discriminate based on age, gender or background.
There are currently more than 116,000 Australians who do not have a place to call home and more than 9000 of those people live in WA.
Homelessness Week is being held this week.
St Vincent de Paul (Vinnies) WA homelessness service manager Chrissie Smith said one in every eight Australians or 2.35 million people had experienced homelessness and one in 12 had slept rough.
On top of that, Ms Smith said each night more than 41,000 people were sleeping in “severely overcrowded” dwellings and another 6000 sleeping in improvised dwellings, including tents or out in the elements, with many of those children and women.
“More than 17,000 Australian children under the age of 12 have no permanent address and 10,900 young people aged 12 to 18 are experiencing homelessness; most are estranged from their families,” she said.
Reflecting the national statistic that 44 per cent of people experiencing homelessness were women, Ms Smith said there had been a “dramatic” increase in the number of females accessing local services.
“Vinnies Tom Fisher House in Northbridge is a respite and engagement accommodation service providing support in a warm and welcoming environment for long-term rough sleepers with complex needs and over the past year this service has seen a dramatic 71 per cent increase in women aged over 50 accessing our facility,” she said.
“There seems to be no single reason for older women becoming homeless but a combination of factors such as mental health issues, inadequate housing, domestic violence, insufficient savings, marriage breakdowns and the death of a partner or spouse.”
Each day, Vinnies WA receives about 200 to 250 calls for relief assistance. To donate to Vinnies or to find out how to volunteer, visit vinnies.org.au or email volunteer@svdpwa. org.au.