Census 2021: Shining a light on homelessness

Recording the alarming rate of homelessness on the Census is vital, you can complete the Census online. Photo: Marian Sampson.

 

DESPITE lockdowns and all that has been happening in the world it is time to stand and be counted.

The Census in Australia, officially the Census of Population and Housing, is the national census in Australia that occurs every five years.

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The Census will be conducted on 10 August.

Five years ago, the 2016 Census showed 116,427 people across the country were without a safe, secure place to sleep at night.

Mission Australia CEO, James Toomey said, “Contrary to common belief, homelessness goes beyond those who we see sleeping on the streets or in their cars – in fact these people who were rough sleeping only made up seven per cent of the 116,000 people who were homeless on Census night five years ago.

“The bigger picture is that most people and families experiencing homelessness are hidden from plain sight.

“We know from the most recent Census data that the majority are living in severely crowded dwellings, couch surfing temporarily with friends or family, or living in crisis accommodation, a shelter, refuge or boarding house.

“To gauge the severity of the problem in 2021 and better understand how COVID-19 and the housing crisis has affected homelessness numbers in Australia, we call on everyone who is living in insecure, unsafe and temporary places to participate in the Census and have their voices counted.

“For the Census data to truly reflect the extent of homelessness, it is important that everyone who is homeless – including those who may not previously have realised they’re homeless – report their living situation accurately.”

Mr Toomey says people should follow the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ advice to accurately report on their living situation on Census night.

They can do this by reporting their suburb as NONE and if they have no accommodation NONE – CRISIS.

“This applies to people who are sleeping rough, as well as people who are couch surfing or if they are away from home due to eviction or a family dispute.

Sadly there are people living in our region who will identify this way in the Census.

“By accurately reporting the scale of the homelessness problem in Australia, we can gain a greater understanding of what actions are sorely needed to end homelessness in our nation altogether.

“There are many reasons why people face homelessness – for some it’s family breakdown, domestic and family violence, job loss or financial or psychological distress, while for others it’s simply the sheer lack of affordable housing.

“Right now we know that there is a severe lack of available affordable rentals in regional, rural and remote areas.

The rental market in Port Stephens has squeezed out many and there is an acknowledged lack of affordable rental properties available for those in need.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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