• Print
photo with border: homeless sleeper

A profile of homelessness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Higher rates of homelessness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Compared with non-Indigenous Australians, Indigenous people:

  • had four times the rate of homelessness (191 per 10,000 compared with 49 per 10,000 in the 2006 Census)
  • made up 9% of the total homeless population (Indigenous people make up around 2.5% of the whole Australian population).

More Indigenous Australians sleep rough

Homelessness was different among Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Homeless Indigenous Australians were more likely to sleep rough, or in improvised dwellings and shelters, than non-Indigenous Australians (27% compared with 15%).

Indigenous homelessness has increased; non-Indigenous stayed the same

Indigenous homelessness increased between 2001 and 2006. Non-Indigenous homelessness remained relatively unchanged. This was the same in most states and territories. In the Northern Territory, homelessness fell for both population groups.

Homeless population by state and territory, 2001 and 2006

Homelessness rates  

More Indigenous people were assisted by specialist homelessness services

While 2.5% of Australians were Indigenous, and 9% of homeless Australians were Indigenous, about 17% of people assisted by specialist homelessness services in 2008–09 were Indigenous.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous people received similar assistance

Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who were assisted by specialist homelessness services had similar:

  • demographic profiles
  • reasons for seeking assistance
  • types of assistance provided to them.