Media Release by Senator the Hon Mark Arbib

Study to ensure homeless Australians get services they need

A landmark Australian Government study following the lives of more than 1,500 Australians who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness has commenced.

Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness Mark Arbib said the two-year study, being conducted by the Melbourne Institute, would provide valuable insights into homelessness.

Senator Arbib said the Federal Government and the states were investing record amounts to fight homelessness, but it was critical that service delivery was targeted to stopping people becoming homeless in the first place.

“If we are to tackle homelessness it is vital that we have an accurate picture of the causes of homelessness and experiences of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,” Senator Arbib said.

“The study will help us to better respond in the future, ensuring government services are better co-ordinated and people less likely to fall through the cracks.

“Homelessness is a complex problem. It’s not just about putting a roof over someone’s head, it’s also about ensuring the support services like healthcare, counselling and employment are effectively assisting vulnerable people.

“Early intervention is critical. The earlier we can wrap services around vulnerable people the easier it will be to stabilise their housing situation.”

The first part of the Longitudinal Study of Factors Affecting Housing Stability will interview more than 1,500 Australians.

Those people will then be approached every six months for two years, to analyse the factors that contribute to homelessness. The first wave of the study begins this month with a voluntary survey.

The need for this research was identified in the Australian Government’s White Paper on Homelessness. Current Australia-wide data does not capture issues such as the length of time that people are homeless and why this varies for different people.

Senator Arbib said the Australian Government had made homelessness a national priority.

“According to the 2006 Counting the Homeless report, on any given night, 105,000 Australians are homeless with 43 per cent of those under 25,” Senator Arbib said.

“Many Australians who are homeless are not living on the streets or rough sleeping but are staying with friends, families or in other temporary accommodation.

“This Government has shown its commitment to addressing this problem with the aim of halving the rate of homelessness and providing supported accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it by 2020.

“That’s why we have investing almost $5 billion in new funding on this important issue.”

This $5 million study is part of the Australian Government’s $11.4 million National Homelessness Research Agenda.