research - children - homeless
SIX-THOUSAND children are homeless in WA –
and nearly half of them are under 12.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that
a further 800 WA children aged 12 to 18 are homeless and without
parents or guardians.
Another report, yet to be released by the State Government,
supports the findings, saying that 39 per cent of homeless
people in WA are now under 18.
The report compiled by Professor Chris Chamberlain and David
MacKenzie of Melbourne's RMIT University reveals that the
WA Government is managing to house only 20 per cent of homeless
The statistics were met with resignation by the state's housing
agencies and charities this week.
Salvation Army spokesman Neil Venables said: "The figures
almost exactly match our own experience.
"Homelessness is no longer about the stereotypical hobo
without a home.
"Young people, particularly families with small children,
are living rough."
He said the Salvation Army, which provided a telephone helpline
as well as limited crisis accommodation, found it difficult
to cope with demand.
"What's immoral is that there is an acceptable turn-away
rate of 80 per cent.
"Nobody should be turned away but what else can we do?"
Don Tunnicliffe, executive officer of Swan Emergency Accommodation,
one of the few places for homeless families, said: "We
turn away between three and five families a day. They may
be people who've slept in a car for a couple of weeks and
have been referred by the Department for Community Development.
"One of the growing problems we see are single fathers.
There are women's refuges but where do fathers with children
go? It's a hidden but significant problem."
Young people considered homeless are those without a permanent
address who live between refuges, welfare shelters, crisis
accommodation or on the streets.
Karel Eringa, executive officer of Shelter WA said: "The
causes of homeless are numerous and complex – poverty,
family breakdown, mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse.
"For instance, if you are 13 and your dad beats you up,
you may have no option but to leave.
"The youth allowance from Centrelink is less than $300
a fortnight and the cheapest room in Perth costs about $50
"Private real estate won't help you. Homeswest won't
house you until you turn 18 and rent assistance only kicks
in after you have paid a certain amount of rent."
The problem was exacerbated by a chronic shortage of houses.
"Homeswest has a stock of just under 39,000 houses, which
has remain unchanged since 1995," Mr Eringa said.
"In 1997 Homeswest houses represented 5.5 per cent of
housing stock. In June last year it represented 4.9 per cent
Many young people are locked in a cycle of poverty.
Thrown out or fleeing an abusive domestic situation, they
have no money but can't apply to Centrelink for help without
Anne Russell-Brown, state manager of Mission Australia, said:
"We have crisis accommodation in Vic Park, a six-bed
hostel which is always full. We turn 80 per cent of people
Rod Mapstone, of Passages, a Northbridge referral and drop-in
centre for homeless young people, said children as young as
12 had come for help.
"It can be a struggle to find beds. It's not unusual
for us to shut the door at 4pm and there are young people
who have nowhere to go," he said.
Community Development Minister Sheila McHale said $11.5 million
would be spent in the next financial year on building more
Homeswest properties and that 18 country women's refuges had
been funded specifically to work with children.
The AIHW attributed WA's higher-than-average figures to the
state's higher proportion of indigenous Australians.
The Sunday Times