Written by Molly Lancett
In 2016 on Census night, it was estimated that over 116,000 people were homeless in Australia. Not only is homelessness devastating for many men, children and women to endure, it is also considered a violation of their basic human rights. Such as the right to an adequate standard or living, the right to education, the right to liberty and security of the person, the right to privacy, the right to social security, the right to vote, and many more. To be exact, defined under Australian Federal law, homelessness is described as ‘inadequate access to safe and secure housing.’ This then applies where the only housing to which a person has access:
is likely to damage the person’s health
threatens the person’s safety
marginalises the person by failing to provide access to adequate personal amenities or the normal economic and social support of a home, or
places the person in circumstances that threaten or adversely affect the adequacy, safety, security and affordability of that housing.
Statistically it is shown that 42% of the homeless populating in Australia is in fact female. Although homeless women are often less visible than men and the extent to which homelessness truly affects women is underestimated within our society. The main causes of homelessness being so prominent with women includes domestic violence situations, sexual assault and a breakdown within the family. It is also important to note that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are affected by homelessness astronomically, as only 2% of Australia's population is in fact indigenous, they make up a total of 9% of the homeless population, and 19% in improvised housing situations. Homelessness is also becoming more and more prominent in youth, with current statistics showing that almost half of all homeless persons are less than 24 years of age.
How can you help? There are many places you can volunteer your time/money! You could spend your time volunteering at the St Vincent de Paul Society in your local Vinnies store, Soul Cafe, or if you're too busy to volunteer your time, even just a small monetary donation helps keep these organisations open. These are some of Australia's most vulnerable groups in society and it is beyond imperative to help in any possibly way we can, that's why this year, the UoN CCJS's Executive Committee has taken part in the remote Winter Sleepout to raise awareness for homelessness.
The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia has more than 60,000 members and volunteers, who work hard to assist people in need and combat social injustice across Australia. Internationally, the Society operates in 153 countries and has over 800,000 members. Click here to donate.