More than 1200 contemporary former Australian Defence Force members used homelessness services over 6 year period

More than 1,200 contemporary ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) members used specialist homelessness services between 2011–17, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Use of homelessness services by contemporary ex-serving ADF members: 2011–17, brings together information from different data sources to build a picture of contemporary ex-serving ADF members who use homelessness services.

In this report, ‘contemporary ex-serving ADF members’ are defined as ADF members who had at least 1 day of service on or after 1 January 2001, and who were discharged after this date. This is the date the Department of Defence’s personnel system was introduced, and from which the study population is drawn.

‘Of the 109,000 contemporary ex-serving ADF members, 1.1% used specialist homelessness services across 6 years. This compares with 3.4% of the Australian population over the same period.’ said AIHW spokesperson Michael Frost.

‘When ex-serving ADF members started using these services, more than half (54%) had housing but were at risk of becoming homeless, and 46% were homeless. This is consistent with the data for the wider Australian population who use homelessness services.’ Mr Frost said.

The report found that male and female ex-serving ADF members had different living and housing situations when they first accessed specialist homelessness services.

Ex-serving ADF members who used specialist homelessness services were more likely to be women, to have discharged before the age of 25, and to have served for less than 5 years.

‘Half of ex-serving men (50%) were homeless when they started using services and the other half were at risk of becoming homeless, whereas 29% of ex-serving women were homeless, and 71% were at risk of becoming homeless,’

‘Ex-serving men tended to live alone (56%), compared with ex-serving women (21%). Nearly half of ex-serving women (46%) were single parents when they first used services, compared with 8% of ex-serving men.’ Mr Frost said.

‘Homelessness can profoundly affect a person’s mental and physical health, their education and employment opportunities, and their ability to participate fully in social and community life.’

Research into homelessness and access to secure housing is an important focus area for understanding the welfare of Australia’s Defence Force veterans.’ Mr Frost said

Until recently there was limited information available about homelessness among veterans in Australia.  

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