If you need housing assistance, or if you want to help people who are homeless, please check out "Where to Find Help" on this page for information about contacting the relevant organisations.

On any given night in Australia more than 100,000 people are homeless. Nearly half of these people are under 25. 

Topics on this page include: 

> Definition of "homeless"
> Youth homelessness in Australia
> Where to find help
> Links to more information

Definition of "homeless"

A person is defined as "homeless" when they have inadequate access to conventional shelter, particularly at night. Being homeless doesn't mean living on the streets. Many homeless people stay in temporary accommodation, for example:

  • In a squat
  • With friends
  • In a boarding-house
  • In emergency accommodation

They may also live in crisis housing or move between the houses of friends and relatives.

Some people who are homeless have a home, but their home may not be safe (for example where there's the threat of violence).

Being homeless is not just about housing. It's also about missing a stable connection to friends, family and the community.

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Youth homelessness in Australia

Counting the Homeless (new window) is a 2008 report based on the 2006 census and the Youth Homelessness in Australia report (new window). It says that:

  • Not all homeless people are older men - half of those who fit the census definition of homelessness were between 12 and 34
  • Not all homeless people live on the streets - only 16 per cent of homeless people surveyed were sleeping outside
  • Not all young homeless people are male - nationally, 44 per cent of homeless people are female
  • Youth homelessness varies a lot between states - for example, Victoria has a rate of 42 homeless people per 10,000 people compared with 248 per 10,000 people in the Northern Territory
  • Youth homelessness is decreasing - the number of homeless people between 12 and 18 dropped by 20 per cent between 2001 and 2006

Other research shows many young people become homeless because of:

  • Family or relationship trouble
  • Eviction
  • Domestic violence

For more information on youth homelessness, check out the Youth Homelessness Matters Day website (new window).

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Where to find help

If you or someone you know need someone to talk to, for any reason, about anything, you can visit eHeadspace (new window), call Lifeline (new window) on 13 11 14, or call Kids Helpline (new window) on 1800 55 1800, 24 hours a day.

Lots of organisations offer advice, financial support, a place to stay and other kinds of assistance.

The following organisations can help if you:

  • Don't have a place to live
  • Are worried about losing the security of your home
  • Know someone at risk of homelessness

For more information about housing support visit these pages on Youth Central:

Emergency and crisis accommodation

The following organisations provide emergency and crisis accommodation for young people:

Victorian Government support

housing.vic.gov.au (new window) offers advice and information about housing and support for people experiencing homelessness, at risk of homelessness, or escaping family violence.

Centrelink crisis and special help

Find out about payments for people in severe hardship or who have been forced to leave home on Centrelink's Crisis and Special Help (new window) pages. The page also lists other support services.

Finding support services

Ask Izzy (new window) is an A-Z directory of support for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, including where to find:

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Everyday items
  • Counselling and support
  • Money help

Frontyard (new window) provides services for young people between 12 and 25. Their services include:

  • Housing support
  • Health services
  • Education and training
  • Family support

All services are free. You can drop in at their offices (19 King Street, Melbourne) without an appointment. 

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These links provide general information about homelessness issues. For links to support organisations, see "Where to Find Help", above.

Youth Homelessness Matters Day
The National Youth Coalition for Housing runs Youth Homelessness Matters Day and provides resources for homeless young people. They also offer ways you can help address youth homelessness.

Counting the Homeless
Report produced for the Australian Bureau of Statistics, based on 2006 Census data.

Youth Homelessness in Australia
Report produced for the Federal Government of Australia, based on 2006 Census data and the National Census of Homeless School Students.

Rebecca's Community offers a range of resources, from statistics and reports to personal stories, poems and images by people experiencing homelessness.

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