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Record rate of Aboriginal homelessness a “damning indictment”


Media Release: Council to Homeless Persons | Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Forum

New data has revealed a record rate of Aboriginal Victorians seeking help for homelessness as frontline services hit breaking point.

The number of Aboriginal Victorians accessing homelessness providers jumped six per cent to 11,860 in the 2022/23 financial year, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Specialist Homelessness Services data shows. 

It follows an average 7.3 per cent increase in Aboriginal Victorians turning to frontline homelessness services each year for the previous four years. 

Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Forum (AHHF) Chair and Aboriginal Housing Victoria CEO Darren Smith called for dedicated funding for Aboriginal homelessness and housing services to turn the crisis around.

“Homelessness among Aboriginal Victorians has hit a record high as rising costs and soaring rents hit Aboriginal communities disproportionately hard. Mainstream services do the best they can with limited resources, but are not equipped to meet the specific cultural needs of Aboriginal people,” he said.

“The rapid growth of homelessness among Aboriginal communities is a damning indictment on chronic underinvestment in housing supply and frontline services. These numbers will continue to soar unless the Victorian government invests in a dedicated Aboriginal homelessness response with self-determination at its core.

Aboriginal providers receive three per cent of Victoria’s overall homelessness funding despite representing 12 per cent of all people accessing homelessness services. The rate of long-term or persistent homelessness among Aboriginal people is sitting at 35 per cent, compared to 28 per cent of non-Aboriginal clients in Victoria. 

“If the rates of Aboriginal homelessness were to be reflected in the general Victorian population, there’d be nearly 1.2 million Victorians accessing homelessness services each year,” Mr Smith said.

“We have a ready-made solution that has been sitting on the government’s desk since 2022. The Mana-na woorn-tyeen maar-takoort and the Blueprint for an Aboriginal-specific homelessness system in Victoria sets out a clear and practical way to turn Victoria’s Aboriginal housing crisis around.”

Council to Homeless Persons CEO Deborah Di Natale said: “Victoria cannot end homelessness without a dedicated and culturally appropriate response for Aboriginal communities. This must be Aboriginal-led. 

“As the peak body for homelessness services in Victoria, we want to see the Mana-na woorn-tyeen maar-takoort become reality and urge the Victorian government to come to the table to reverse unacceptable rates of homelessness among Aboriginal Victorians.”

Mana-na woorn-tyeen maar-takoort translates to ‘every Aboriginal person has a home’ in the Gunditjmara dialects. It is a framework that lays out the foundation for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing reform in Victoria.  Learn more at: https://vahhf.org.au/

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