Almost 100,000 Victorians received assistance from homelessness services in 2013-14

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released data this week showing that the demand for homelessness services in Victoria rose by eight percent this year from 92,462 in 2012-13 to 99,892.

The data shows that much of the increase is due to women escaping family violence, and that family violence continues to be the number one driver of homelessness in Victoria and Australia. Almost 5,000 extra women and children in Victoria accessed services due to family violence this year, and CHP CEO Jenny Smith is concerned that funding isn’t keeping up with rising demand.

“Better awareness and increased reporting of family violence is a good thing, but it needs to be matched with the resources to respond, to make sure women and children can be safe, either in their own home, or in a new one,” Ms Smith said.

Ms Smith was also concerned about the additional 4,500 people who sought help due to housing or financial crisis last year, and the 7,000 people in the private rental market who were at risk of homelessness.  

The AIHW figures also highlight the desperate need for ongoing funding at the federal level in particular. With the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) in doubt for the 2015, services are going into their third Christmas not knowing whether their programs will be funded in the new year.  

“The annual suspense as we await confirmation that the NPAH funding will be extended for a further 12 months leaves our clients and workforce anxious, and our homelessness services hamstrung,” Ms Smith said.

“Women and children fleeing domestic violence, young people who can’t stay with their families and long-term rough sleepers looking for a bed for the night are all affected by the lack of certainty that this funding cycle creates.”

The key findings from the AIHW data for Victoria (2012-13 comparisons with 2013-14):

  • The number of rough sleepers seeking assistance increased 23%, from 5,160 to 6,876
  • Family violence continues to be the number one driver of homelessness. The number of people driven to homelessness agencies by family violence was 25,104
  • Services reported the greatest increase in requests for help form those aged under 14, consistent with the increase in the number of people seeking assistance for family violence.

Full AIHW data report can be found here .