3.4 Homelessness

Children experience a number of negative educational, social and health consequences as a result of being homeless. These can include early school leaving, behavioural problems, lack of parental affection and support, and psychological problems such as depression and anxiety, with the effects of homelessness often persisting beyond the period of homelessness.

The causes of homelessness are complex and may include economic factors such as poverty, unemployment, increased housing costs, and unstable home environments caused by domestic violence. Factors that may lead to homelessness among children include family problems such as neglect, abuse, conflict, and drug and alcohol problems.

Trend data: For all indicator displays, the yearly trend is limited to indicators with 3 or more years (including the current year) of comparable time series data. To see the trend click on “Yearly Trend” button on the display. Where 3 or more years of comparable data including the most recent year is not available, a “No time series data” message is shown on the display.

The first figure is a bar graph showing the rate of children and young people aged 0–17 who receive assistance through homelessness services by Indigenous status, age group, domestic violence, presenting group, care and protection order status and support period. Data can be selected by year from 2011–12 to 2020–21.

The second figure is a line graph showing the rate of children and young people aged 0–17 who receive assistance through homelessness services from 2016–17 to 2020–21. Data can be selected by age group, care and protection order status, domestic violence, Indigenous status, presenting group and support period.

Source: AIHW Specialist Homelessness Services Collection

See the supplementary data tables for further information and footnotes about these data.

Indicator technical specifications

The information below provides technical specifications for the summary indicator data presented in the quick reference guide.

National Framework Indicator 3.4 Homelessness: Rate of children aged 0-17 years who receive assistance through homelessness services (accompanied and unaccompanied)
  Definition Data source
Numerator Number of children aged 0-17 years who received assistance through Specialist Homelessness Services (accompanied and unaccompanied) in the reference period Specialist Homelessness Services data collection
Denominator Number of children aged 0-17 years at 30 June AIHW Population Database (sourced from ABS Australian Demographics Statistics)

Explanatory notes

All children at risk of homelessness are not captured in the Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) data collection; only those who sought and received assistance are included.

Assistance from SHS includes any service received (for example, shower or meal), not only accommodation. However, all SHS clients are either homeless, or at risk of homelessness, regardless of the service type they receive.

The national SHS data collection was implemented on 1 July 2011, replacing the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) data collection.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting Australian Government closure of the international border from 20 March 2020, caused significant disruptions to the usual Australian population trends. This report uses Australian Estimated Resident Population (ERP) estimates that reflect these disruptions.

Accordingly, in the year July 2020 to June 2021, the overall population growth was much smaller than the years prior and in particular, there was a relatively large decline in the population of Victoria. ABS reporting indicates these were primarily due to net-negative international migration (National, state and territory population, June 2021 | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)).

Please be aware that this change in the usual population trends may complicate your interpretation of statistics calculated from these ERPs. For example, rates and proportions may be greater than in previous years due to decreases in the denominator (population size) of some sub-populations.