Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data indicates that homelessness in eastern and southern Melbourne is only slightly less than the Victorian average. The nature of homelessness varies across the region, with relatively more people sleeping rough in Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula, and more people living in severely overcrowded dwellings in Dandenong. Across Melbourne, people living in severely overcrowded dwellings represent a growing and very significant proportion of those counted as homeless.
The GSS (General Social Survey, 2014) for the first time collected information about long-term health conditions, including mental health. People aged 15 years and over were asked if they had ever been told by a doctor or nurse that they had a mental health condition lasting, or expected to last, six months or more. Of the 3.4 million people surveyed, 18% reported having a mental health condition, including depression, behavioural or emotional disorders, dependence on drugs or alcohol, feeling anxious or nervous, or problems learning or understanding things.
People who reported having a mental health condition were more than twice as likely to have experienced homelessness, compared with people who did not (25% compared with 10%). In the most disadvantaged areas of Australia, 34% of people with a reported mental health condition had experienced homelessness in their lifetime, compared with one in six people without a mental health condition.
Salvation Army research has found that the most vulnerable in our community struggle to pay for necessities like housing, food and medications, with nine in 10 of Australia’s most vulnerable in housing stress and turning to The Salvos for support. Their research found 93% of those surveyed were experiencing housing stress (paying more than 30% of household income on housing) and of these, 86% were in extreme housing stress (paying more than 50% of household income on housing).
With housing costs at an unprecedented high, those on government support payments are left with $11 a day, and those on minimum wage only $4 a day, after paying for housing. The Salvos have seen a six-fold increase in people on wages presenting to its services for help. “It is absolutely devastating to see the impact of Covid-19 on the Australian community.
The past year has shown us that anyone can find themselves in crisis, and this has manifested in The Salvos seeing people we’ve never seen before coming to us for support,” says The Salvation Army’s Major Brendan Nottle. The survey found that during lockdown, 87% of respondents found it difficult to meet the basic needs of housing, food, electricity and health, and post-lockdown the situation remains the same for an overwhelming 73%. In the past 12 months 45% of people went without meals; 53% were unable to afford medical or dental treatment; 28% were unable to buy medicines prescribed by their doctor, and 30% were unable to afford home internet, impacting the ability to work or learn from home.
“With housing stress in this country being at such a high, we are seeing more people becoming homeless”, says Major Brendan Nottle. “Furthermore, in what is a very lucky country, it is shocking to see almost 50% of people skipping meals and more not able to afford medicines. We need to do better.”
Now in its 56th year, The Red Shield Appeal is The Salvos’ flagship fundraising appeal which aims to raise $32 million to fund more than 2000 centres and services across Australia. “The reality is we cannot do what we do without the generous support of the Aussie public. To help us leave no one in need, please consider donating to our Red Shield Appeal”, says Major Brendan Nottle.
In a typical year, The Salvos across Australia:
• Provide more than one million occasions of care to those in need
• Support more than 40 000 people experiencing homelessness
• Distribute 1.5 million meals through its homelessness services
• Give over 43 000 occasions of care to those experiencing family and domestic violence
• Distribute almost $100 million worth of financial assistance to people doing it tough
To donate to The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal, or if you need support from The Salvos go to www.salvationarmy.org.au or call 13 SALVOS (13 72 58). You can also donate at any Salvos Store.
City of Boroondara
The number of homeless people in Boroondara on Census night increased from 383 in 2011, to 426 in 2016.1 This was the second largest increase (11.2%) in the Eastern Metropolitan Region. These counts are likely to underestimate homelessness because of barriers to completing a Census form, however the increase aligns with reports to Council relating to instances of homelessness, with 110 reports from the community about rough sleepers made in 2019 compared with 76 reports in 2017. Consistent with data trends in Boroondara, the Council to Homeless Persons’ report in eastern and southern Melbourne shows that women, children and young people are the most common clients of homelessness services.
City of Whitehorse
Whitehorse has the 10th highest median house price of the 79 local governments in Victoria.3 Households are generally accepted to be in ‘housing stress’ when they spend more than 30% of income on housing, particularly if they are in the lowest 40% of income earners, affecting their ability to meet other basic needs. In Whitehorse the proportion of renters in housing stress has increased from 27.8% in 2011, to 30.9% in 2016, slightly higher than the Victorian average of 28.1%. Overall, 11.8% of households in Whitehorse are considered to be in housing stress.
Wesley Eastern Homeless Services Ph. 8870 4000 or 1300 558 484 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: wesley.org.au Crisis response service for people at risk of homelessness, are homeless or experiencing family violence. Provide laundry, shower and mail facilities. Emergency relief assessments undertaken. Provide a central and immediate response for people within Eastern Region with accessing crisis accommodation.