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Surfing Australia

One cold night isn’t a lot but it can make a whole lot of difference

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During the pandemic there was unprecedented intervention from the government with strategies including unparalleled investment in emergency and temporary accommodation for the homeless population. There were also a range of short-term initiatives to help people at risk of homelessness remain housed such as moratoriums on evictions and rent increases, and income support such as JobSeeker and JobKeeper.

“We tend to assume the problem of homelessness is visible to us through the many people we pass on the way to work or sleeping rough in our neighbourhoods. But this is only a small fraction of the thousands of people struggling with homelessness in Australia.”

All of this helped keep people housed throughout winter – and reduced the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless. Much of this short-term support is now falling away as so many of us otherwise have the luxury of getting back to normal.

I can’t help thinking, we are Australia, we can do better than seeing anyone sleeping on our streets.

Not always what you think

We tend to assume the problem of homelessness is visible to us through the many people we pass on the way to work or sleeping rough in our neighbourhoods. But this is only a small fraction of the thousands of people struggling with homelessness in Australia.

The more significant part of the homelessness problem is far less visible – it’s individuals and families sleeping in cars, on sofas, and in informal, transitory arrangements such as ‘couch surfing’. In any one night, more than an estimated 100,000 people are living in improvised accommodation, overcrowded dwellings, boarding houses, hostels, caravans or sleeping rough.

The experience of homelessness is varied and it impacts people of all ages and backgrounds.

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