Census data shows ACT homelessness down

Released 14/03/2018

Today’s 2016 Census data release by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a significant fall in both the number of homeless Canberrans and the rate of homelessness in the ACT.

This data shows important progress in a vital area of the ACT Government’s commitment to equity and fairness for all in the community.

It reflects the hard work of the amazing people in the ACT’s housing and specialist homelessness service sectors and a concerted effort by the government to provide them funding certainty and stability.

Despite the ACT growing by approximately 11% between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses and a 13% increase in homelessness nationally, homelessness has significantly fallen in Canberra.

On Census night in 2016, there were 1596 people homeless in the ACT compared to 1738 in 2011, a real drop of 142 people or 8.1%. When measured as a rate per 10,000 head of population, this saw the ACT rate drop from 48.7 in 2011 to 40.2 in 2016.

More work needs to be done to better support and aid people who are sleeping rough. Rough sleepers are a small percentage of the homeless population but are often people with complex needs and who face particular disadvantage in their lives.

The Census figures reveal that the number of rough sleepers increased from 28 to 54 between 2011 and 2016, roughly consistent with feedback from local service providers. The ACT still has the lowest percentage of rough sleepers of any state or territory.

Because rough sleepers often have complex needs, it can take time for them to be ready to engage with support services. The ACT Government funds support services available to assist people sleeping rough in accessible ways, free of judgement. These include:

  • OneLink, the central access point for ACT homelessness services, which works closely with frontline service providers such as the Early Morning Centre and Griffin Centre to connect people to support services
  • the Street to Home Program and Night Patrol, run by St Vincent de Paul
  • a number of free food services, such as the Blue Door drop-in centre at Ainslie Village, the RoadHouse which is coordinated by the Australian Red Cross at the Griffin Centre in Civic and the Soup Kitchen in Garema Place
  • the Early Morning Centre, run by Uniting Care, which supports people sleeping rough with breakfast, lockers, computers, showers, medical and vet services and information.

The ACT Government is delivering on its commitments to increase funding to the Early Morning Centre, develop a second Common Ground, advocate for secure federal homelessness funding and develop a new ACT housing strategy.

Next week I will release a summary paper of ideas from the community expressed through a far reaching consultation period last year. I’m looking forward to progressing these policy ideas in the new strategy and using every tool available to make secure and affordable housing a reality for more Canberrans.

I will also use a ministerial statement next week to encourage the Canberra community to keep engaging with these issues and to support broader awareness of the complex issues surrounding homelessness.

- Statement ends -

Section: Yvette Berry, MLA | Media Releases

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