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Education Raises Awareness, Reduces Stigma of Homelessness

Do you really understand homelessness? Whether your career involves working with people experiencing or at risk of homelessness or you volunteer your time to this complex social issue, knowledge and understanding of homelessness is powerful to reduce stigma and provide appropriate support.


What is Homelessness?

Despite a widely held belief that those who are homelessness are rough sleepers (living on the streets), this population makes up only 7 per cent of the ‘hidden homelessness.’

The ‘hidden homelessness’ includes sleeping in cars, rooming houses, couch surfing, or staying in other temporary types of accommodation.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a person is considered homeless if they don’t have suitable accommodation or if their current living arrangement:


  • Is in a dwelling that is inadequate
  • Has no tenure, or if tenure is short and not extendable; or
  • Does not allow them to have control of, and access to, spaces for social relations.


Homelessness in Australia

The most recent data on homelessness shows that the rate of homelessness in Australia has increased by 4.6 per cent over the last five years.

The latest estimates reveal more than 116,000 people were experiencing homelessness in Australia on Census night, representing 50 homeless persons for every 10,000 people.

Dr Paul Jelfs, General Manager of Population and Social Statistics, said that while there was an overall increase in the estimate of homelessness in Australia, this number is made up of various distinct groups and each tells a different story.

The largest group were those people living in ‘severely’ crowded dwellings, which accounted for 51,088 people, up from 41,370 in 2011.

“On Census night, 8,200 people were estimated to be ‘sleeping rough’ in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out – an increase from 3.2 persons per 10,000 people in 2011 to 3.5 persons per 10,000 people in 2016,” Dr Jelfs said.

It has also emerged that young people and older Australians are groups experiencing increasing homelessness in Australia.

“One-quarter of all people experiencing homelessness in 2016 was aged between 20 and 30 years,” Dr Jelfs said.

People aged between 65 and 74 years experiencing homelessness increased to 27 persons per 10,000 people, up from 25 persons per 10,000 people in 2011.

Other at-risk groups of significance include recent migrants to Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Homelessness is a complex social issue facing Australia, but there are actions that need to be achieved to find enduring solutions, according to Homelessness Australia.


In 2019, Homelessness Week is the 4th -10th August with a theme “Housing Ends Homelessness.’’


Professional Development Course – Homelessness Support

Those who are homeless, or are at risk of homelessness, have complex care and support needs that go beyond facilitating housing or shelter. If your future career path involves working with homeless people, this professional development course is ideal for you.

Homelessness Support is an online professional development program that will provide you with the knowledge and skills required for working with people who are experiencing homelessness or risk of becoming homeless, including women and children experiencing family violence.

In this online homelessness support course, you will discover the issues facing the homeless, including emotional, psychological, legal and cultural factors.

On completion of this course, you will feel confident to support homeless individuals and those at risk of homelessness in the community.


Australian Online Courses supports Homelessness Prevention Week.