Facts about Homelessness

Supported Accommodation Assistance Program Act 1994 defines Homelessness as:

A person is homeless if, and only if, he or she has inadequate access to safe and secure housing.


There are three different levels of homelessness:

Primary homelessness, experienced by people without conventional accommodation (e.g. sleeping rough or in improvised dwellings).

Secondary homelessness, experienced by people who frequently move from one temporary shelter to another (e.g. emergency accommodation, youth refuges, "couchsurfing").

Tertiary homelessness, experienced by people staying in accommodation that falls below minimum community standards (e.g. boarding housing and caravan parks). This definition was adopted by the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Homelessness in 2001 and is widely used in our sector.


  • Homelessness can be caused by poverty, unemployment, lack of affordable housing, family breakdown, alcohol and other drug use, financial difficulty, gambling and social isolation, but domestic violence is the single biggest cause.
  • Families with children form the largest group of people who are homeless.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are over-represented in the homeless population. Indigenous Australians represent around two and a half per cent of the Australian population but they represent 17% of all people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness.


Stats and figures at a glance:

105, 000 homeless people in  Australia

22,000 homeless people in Victoria

45,000 (1 in 3) homeless people are under the age of the 25

16% of homeless Aussies sleep rough

50% of homeless Aussies are staying with relatives or friends temporarliy

20% of homeless Aussies live in boarding/rooming houses or other temporary accomodation

15%  of homeless Aussies find a bed in homeless services

Every day 1/2 the people who request immediate accommodation from the homeless service system are turned away.

See also the PDF of Key Statistics in Victoria at CHP.  

Or these infographics at Homelessness Australia:

Homelessness in Victoria.  

Homelessness in Australia.