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Homeless People Melbourne Statistics:
The Appalling, Unpleasant Truth of it all.

A recent survey in 2004 suggests over 4,000 people in Melbourne are physically homeless.

Homelessness is not a choice that people make, it happens. We as a community have a social, moral and ethical responsibility to care and foster its vulnerable members.

In a culture that endears itself and measures successful people with being good, law abiding, kind, generous, in order to succeed ; what messages are we sending to those individuals who also posses these same qualities, who find themselves marginalised in ever increasing numbers. So it does beg the questions; how just is our society?, is it indeed fair and equitable?

Homelessness is a universal journey, and is not necessarily by definition just about shelter, it is an intrinsic state of unrest.

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Homelessness is defined as when a person is left without a conventional home and lacks the economic and social support that a home normally affords. He/she is often cut of from the support of relatives and friends, and has few independent resources. Often the person has no immediate means and in some cases, little prospect of independence even more so if you have a mental illness.Its almost 20 years since the Richmond Report and the community sector is yet to see the recourses they were promised. Since the deinstitutionlisation of mental health services, community care is focused on home care; however a reliance on this is clearly deficient considering that a high percentage of the homeless also have a mental illness.

The figures reveal a slight decrease in the number of homeless people in Australia from 105,304 people in 1996 to 99,900 people in 2001. This is a decrease of 5.1 percent.

However, the numbers of homeless people in Victoria has increased by 13.8 percent from 17,840 in 1996 to 20,305 people in 2001.

A separate survey was conducted as part of the Counting the Homeless 2001 report examining marginal residents or people likely to be homeless living in caravan parks.

Any analysis of these homelessness figures should consider this report in combination with the general figures.

If the marginal resident in caravan park figures are added to the numbers of homeless people, the total for Australia is 122,768 people. The total figure for Victoria is 23,712 people.

The report released today is a national report with some state comparisons. A State Report containing regional data is due to be completed by March 2004.

The full report can be obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics website at

This information briefing will provide a summary of the figures contained in the National Report released today and use a series of simple tables. It will provide some brief and initial analysis.

2. Methodology

The Counting the Homeless 2001 project uses the same definition of homelessness, as well as follows the methodological precedents established for the 1996 analysis.

The project's aim was to replicate the 1996 analysis and examine changes in the homeless population over time.

The census targets Australia's homeless population with a special enumeration strategy. The ABS project is supplemented by data from the National Data Collection Agency (NDCA) on homeless people using SAAP services and data from the second national census of homeless school students, which was carried out at the same time as the ABS Census.

The census must enumerate or count:
1. People staying in boarding houses
2. Individuals using SAAP services
3. Persons staying with other families; and
4. People who are in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out.

Marginal Residents in Caravan Park Methodology

A separate but important addition to the 2001 report is the figure regarding marginal residents in caravan parks.

The criteria for marginal residents in caravan parks is people whose usual address is a caravan park, are renting a caravan or caravan park dwelling and are not in full time employment. It does not include people who are on holiday, people who own or are purchasing a caravan park site or people who are renting a caravan park site and are in full employment.

Definition of Homelessness

This census defines homelessness using three categories. They are:

Primary homelessness includes all people without conventional accommodation, such as people living on the streets, sleeping in parks, squatting in derelict buildings, or using cars or railway carriages for temporary shelter.

Secondary homelessness includes people who move frequently from one form of temporary shelter to another, including people staying in emergency or transitional accommodation provided under (SAAP) and people residing temporarily with other households because they have no accommodation of their own or 'no usual address'.

Tertiary homelessness refers to people who live in boarding houses on a medium to long-term basis, operationally defined as 13 weeks or longer.

The number of homeless people in Victoria has increased by 13.8% from 17,840 people in 1996 to 20,305 people in 2001.

The number of homeless people in Australia has marginally declined from 105,304 people in 1996 to 99,900 in 2001.

Nearly half the homeless population in Australia continue to live temporarily with friends and relatives.

The proportion of the homeless population in SAAP accommodation has increased by 10.2 percent between 1996 and 2001.

Single people continue to comprise over three quarters of the homeless population.

Young people and children continue to be over represented in the homeless population with 26 percent aged 12-18 years and 46 percent aged 24 years and under.

The gender distribution between males and females is relatively even with young people who are homeless aged less than 25 years. Older people who are homeless have a higher proportion of males.

Indigenous people continue to be over represented in the homeless population especially those living in improvised dwellings and in SAAP.

The rate of homelessness per 10,000 of the population continues to be higher in the smaller states and territories.

The rate of homelessness per 10,000 of the population has increased in Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria.

There are 3,407 marginal residents of caravan parks in Victoria according to a separate survey undertaken as part of the report.

About 80 percent of the marginal residents of caravan parks are located in the eastern seaboard states of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

About 78 percent of marginal caravan residents in Australia are located in regional and rural areas.

About 67 percent of persons in boarding houses are located in capital cities.

Statistics from the Council to Homeless Persons Intoduction Ian archibald

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