April 2021 Fact Sheet

The April activation themes of the UNSEEN Arts Hub align with Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Youth Homelessness Week. This month sees the UNSEEN tiny house first appearance in Martin Place to highlight how the Australian housing market lacks affordable rental housing and the long waiting lists for tightly targeted social housing.

  • 3 in 5 of young people (aged 15–24) presenting alone to a specialist homelessness agency in 2019-20 were female (63% or almost 26,900 young women)[i].
  • Sexual abuse is a major contributing reason for young women’s homelessness[ii]. Other factors include housing crisis, insecure employment, lack of income, domestic violence, relationship or family breakdown, gender and LGBQTI issues[iii]. Young people face discrimination in the private rental market due to lack of rental references and fewer financial resources, and are less able to access social housing[iv].
  • Census data has revealed that the rate of youth homelessness in NSW (young people aged 12-24) increased from 6,631 in 2011 to 9,041 in 2016, which includes rough sleeping, couch surfing, sleeping in homeless shelters or in severe overcrowding. This alarming increase signifies that youth homelessness needs to be given more attention and resources[v].
  • 3 in 10 (29%) of people using specialist homelessness services in 2019-20 were under the age of 18[vi].
  • Children who experience homelessness with their parents or who are removed or separated from their parents as a result of their parents’ homelessness, are more likely to experience hunger, developmental delay, poor educational outcomes, depression, low self-esteem and other problems than children who do not experience homelessness. They are also more likely to experience homelessness in later life[vii].
  • The intergenerational homelessness rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is significantly higher than for non-Indigenous people[viii].
  • At the time of the 2016 Census: 80% of very low-income ($673 or less per week) private renter households nationally were paying unaffordable rents; in Sydney 92% of very low-income households were paying unaffordable rents; 36% of low income ($674-1,182 per week) households nationally were living in unaffordable rentals; in Sydney, 71% of low-income households are paying unaffordable rents[ix].
  • Anglicare’s Rental snapshot reports that there is almost no private rental housing that is affordable for people on low incomes often received by young people, or receiving Youth Allowance, Jobseeker and other pensions and benefits[x].
  • 47,000 Australian women are homeless and another 400,000 women over 45 are at risk of homelessness
  • There are now over 59,000 households on the NSW social housing waiting list[xi].


[i] https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-annual-report/contents/young-people-presenting-alone
[ii] https://eprints.qut.edu.au/2538/1/Women_and_Homelessness_report.pdf
[iii] https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-annual-report/contents/young-people-presenting-alone
[iv] https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/327
[v] https://homelessnessnsw.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Youth-homelessness-in-NSW.pdf
[vi] https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-annual-report/contents/clients-services-and-outcomes
[viii] https://www.ahuri.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0028/1999/AHURI_Final_Report_No200_Lifetime-and-intergenerational-experiences-of-homelessness-in-Australia.pdf
[ix] https://www.ahuri.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0024/53619/AHURI-Final-Report-323-The-supply-of-affordable-private-rental-housing-in-Australian-cities-short-term-and-longer-term-changes.pdf
[x] https://www.anglicare.asn.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/special-release-rental-affordability-update.pdf?sfvrsn=4
[xi] https://www.communitiesplus.com.au/about-us/future-directions

March 2021 Fact Sheet

The March activation of the UNSEEN Project on women’s homelessness aligns with 8 March International Women’s Day.  34% of homeless women are ‘rough sleepers’ who are living on the streets, sleeping in parks, staying in cars or impoverish dwellings. However rough sleepers are only 7% of the homeless population. Others experiencing homelessness either moving from one temporary shelter to another, live temporarily with family or friends or sub standard boarding houses. These women are UNSEEN, hidden from view through fear of violence and stigmatisation. The art installation of the UNSEEN Car reflects the hidden nature of their experiences of homelessness and housing insecurity and how, for others a car is the only safe place to live with their children. Too often these women are told to ‘move on’ by people living in nearby houses.

  • Older women are the fastest growing group of homeless people in Australia. In NSW, between 2011 and 2016 the number of women aged 55 and over experiencing homelessness increased by 48% and the number aged between 65 and 74 experiencing homelessness increased by 78%[i]. This number will continue to increase in future decades due to the continuing increase in low income sole person households combined with worsening housing affordability[ii].
  • Domestic violence is the main reason for women’s homelessness. 41% of people seeking help from homelessness services do so because of domestic violence – overwhelmingly, they are women and children[iii].
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women face barriers in accessing and understanding services, and there is a lack of specific funding to assist them[iv].
  • Many women with disability live in poverty and there is a lack of affordable and suitable housing options available for people with a range of disabilities[v]. Services may also not be accessible or adequately resourced for women with disabilities[vi].
  • First Nations people are 3.2% of the Australian population yet are 27% of those using homelessness services, with twice as many adult women as adult men using services[vii]. Severe shortages of crisis and long-term housing, especially in regional and remote areas, mean these women and their children are routinely turned away, are unable to access help and may have no option but to return to an unsafe situation[viii].


[i] ABS Census of Population and Housing, Estimating Homelessness, 2016, cat no. 2049.0
[ii] https://theconversation.com/400-000-women-over-45-are-at-risk-of-homelessness-in-australia-142906
[iii] https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-annual-report/contents/clients-who-have-experienced-family-and-domestic-violence
[iv] Goldsmith, E. (N.D.) DFV survivors with no access to income. Domestic Violence NSW: DVNSW, Redfern, NSW. http://dvnsw.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Women-No-Income-Summary-of-Issues-DVNSW.pdf
[v] Saugeres, L. (2011) (Un)accommodating disabilities: housing, marginalization and dependency in Australia. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment 26(1):1-15
[vi] Tually, S., Faulkner, D., & Cutler, C. (2008). Women, domestic and family violence and homelessness: A synthesis report. Adelaide: Commonwealth of Australia.
[vii] https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/homelessness-services/specialist-homelessness-services-annual-report/contents/indigenous-clients services/specialist-homelessness-services-2017-18/contents/client-groups-of-interest/indigenous-clients
[viii] Cripps, K. and Habibis, D. (2019) Improving housing and service responses to domestic and family violence for Indigenous individuals and families, AHURI Final Report 320, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne, http://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/320, doi: 10.18408/ahuri-7116201.