Homeless in Sydney - Photo, Nicholas Welsh

Homeless in Sydney – Photo, Nicholas Welsh

There are 18,000 children under 12 years of age who are homeless according to the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census figures.

Homelessness has risen in Australia by 17 per cent during the period since the 2006 Census to the 2012 Census. Australia, on most report cards is the 12th or 13th most powerful economy in the world. According to last month’s United Nations Development Program (UNDEP) human development index Australia ranks second, only behind Norway, in reference to social wealth, public health and even for the quotient on “happiness.”

The UNDEP report made no mention of child and youth homelessness in Australia and that homelessness in terms of total numbers increased by 16,000 to 105,237 after having dropped by 7 per cent between 2001 and 2006.

The ABS revealed that at least 17,845 children under the age of 12 are homeless.

This is a rise of more than 3,000 from the 2006 figure of 15,715 children homeless under the age of 12.

More than a quarter of all homeless Australians are under the age of 18.

Photo, Frank Violi

Photo, Frank Violi

60 per cent of people experiencing homelessness are under 35 years old. The ABS acknowledges that it is difficult to ascertain the full extent of youth homelessness, especially for the very young. The 44,083 Australians under 25 years of age who have been counted as homeless is the minimum number.

The national homelessness rate is 48.9 per 100,000 people but in the Northern Territory it is 731 per 100,000. The ABS also acknowledges that it needs to better understand how to measure homelessness among Aboriginal peoples – and therefore the numbers could be higher.

In NSW homelessness rose by 20 per cent, and by nearly as much in Victoria and Tasmania.

In the ACT homelessness rose by 70 per cent.

April 10 is Youth Homelessness Matters Day.