In Australia there are over 116,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night. Homelessness Week aims to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness on Australia via national and local community events, including providing information on the importance of housing as a solution and educating communities on how they can make a difference.
National Homelessness Week gives The Salvation Army, and other NFP organisations in the community, an opportunity to highlight the key issues affecting people experiencing homelessness in Australia. These issues can go unnoticed, they are often hidden but their impact can be devastating, and something needs to be done about them.
National Homelessness Manager for The Salvation Army Dr Jed Donoghue, says he has seen and heard some heartbreaking stories. ’From mental health issues to alcohol and drug misuse, gambling addiction, family breakdown and cultural and economic intergenerational poverty. However, the most horrific trend we are seeing is the issue of premature deaths amongst those experiencing primary homelessness.’
Dr Donoghue says new research is showing that primary homelessness increases your risk of an early death between three and seven times, amounting to a life expectancy average of only 50 years of age. ‘The most distressing part of this story is that many of these premature deaths are preventable.
‘These are not just numbers on a page. There are real people; someone’s son or daughter, someone’s mother or father, someone’s friend or colleague. People forced into homelessness are dying too young due to a range of factors including the high cost of rental accommodation, shortage of social housing, job loss and ill health which can lead to poor physical and mental health outcomes.’
Calling for support from the Commonwealth and State governments
Dr Donoghue says The Salvos cannot do this alone. ‘Housing and support are not the only issues required by people experiencing homelessness. The Salvation Army is calling for more support from the Commonwealth and State governments to ensure that all facets of homelessness are resourced, including the important issues of social housing supply.’
If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness and needs support, please reach out to The Salvation Army by visiting salvationarmy.org.au or calling 13 SALVOS (13 72 58).