November 29, 2007 | Graham

What they’ll find on homelessness

Kevin Rudd has sent his troops out to investigate the plight of the homeless living in shelters in their electorates. Here’s what they are likely to find if they are diligent.

  • There are only about 20,000 homeless in Australia if you are talking about people sleeping rough, not 100,000 as regularly claimed by the welfare lobby.
  • About half of those are aborigines sleeping rough in the Northern Territory
  • Of the other 10,000 or so, most are suffering from mental illness
  • In Brisbane the figure sleeping rough is around 400
  • There is a desperate shortage of emergency places for women, but reasonable supply for men
  • Many people sleeping rough want to sleep rough
  • Many of the people sleeping rough are only sleeping rough because the deinstutionalisation of mental patients by state governments put them there

So, there is no crisis in homelessness, but there are some needs, most significantly for women (although women are a minority of those sleeping rough). If there is a problem it is largely the product of state government neglect, as are most of the problems that Rudd has been campaigning on. It is unlikely to be solved by supplying more beds, although that will help in some circumstances, because many on the streets want to be there.
Any local member worth his or her salt ought to already know all of the above.

Posted by Graham at 5:58 am | Comments (4) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. well, what d’you know ! I seem to have successfully accessed the National Forum ! (Previous attempts zilch).l Re homeless: it might be an idea to ask some of them ! Should not be impossible. as to Kevin 07: Interesting that he did this b4 election, but his visit and instructions to ALP caucus only became public after… We follow developments with interest ! Inc MW

    Comment by max watts — November 29, 2007 @ 6:33 pm

  2. Max, not sure why you would have trouble accessing the National Forum. Perhaps you could send me an email about it, seeing it would be right of thread.

    Comment by Graham Young — November 29, 2007 @ 8:25 pm

  3. Graham, do you have a source for those numbers? eg 20k v 100k and 400 in Bris?

    Comment by Darryl Rosin — November 30, 2007 @ 1:48 pm

  4. Darryl, the official stats are at$File/20410_1996.pdf. Sleeping rough is the category you want to look at. You’ll find that things like living in a boarding house are included in the definition of homeless, even though more boarding houses are often touted as the solution!
    The figure of 400 is drawn generally from and comments by David Hinchliffe the other day. I’ve had an interest in this issue for quite some time, so I took the figure off the top of my head. The OLO article has a more conservative figure.

    Comment by Graham Young — November 30, 2007 @ 5:34 pm

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