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Everyone has a right to a place to call home.

Unfortunately, on any given night there are thousands of people across WA who experience homelessness.

The 2021 ABS Census estimated that there were around 9700 people in WA experiencing homelessness[1], of which 2315 were sleeping rough.

We know that between 2021 and 2022, 24,700 Western Australians accessed specialised homelessness services. [2]  There has been a steady increase of people accessing specialist homelessness services in WA, from 2,252 clients a month in 2017, to 3,131 clients a month in 2022.[3]

Homelessness is an important social issue. Polls undertaken prior to the 2021 WA state election revealed that homelessness was one of the top four issues the community wanted the State Government to focus on more. Two thirds of voters said that the issue of homelessness would be influential in their vote.

Detailed data on homelessness in each local government area in WA is available through the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Census data, here.

Homelessness in regional WA

Homelessness looks very different across Western Australia and between metropolitan, regional and remote areas.

Even though there is a larger concentration of supported accommodation and support services in urban areas, rates of homelessness are higher in regional WA than they are in the city. While only 6.3 percent of Western Australians live in remote or very remote regions, 36 percent of people who accessed specialist homeless services in 2020-2021 lived in remote or very remote regions.[4]   The highest numbers of homelessness in regional WA are in the Kimberley, the South West and the Pilbara regions.[5]

Because there are more support services in urban areas, people tend to experience homelessness differently in regional WA.  For example, in regional WA, there may be less people in supported and transitional accommodation, and more people rough sleeping or in severely overcrowded houses

Using evidence informed place-based responses that respond to local needs and contexts is a priority for ending homelessness in WA.

Homelessness and First Nations People

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are extremely overrepresented in WA’s population of people experiencing homeless. Despite making up just over 3 percent of the population, First Nations Australians represented 35 percent of the WA homeless population in the last Census and around 50 percent of people accessing specialist homelessness services in WA in 2021-2022.[7]

Because of decades of intergenerational trauma and social exclusion, First Nations people in Australia experience many of the social and structural risk factors associated with homelessness at higher rates than other members of society.  Improving Aboriginal wellbeing is a priority focus area of the State Government’s All Paths Lead to Home: Western Australia’s 10-Year Strategy on Homelessness 2020-2030.  Self-determination must underpin the delivery of homelessness services for Aboriginal people in WA, and culturally informed and culturally led services are the key to change.

Other cohorts at particular risk of homelessness in WA include young people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with disabilities, people exiting the childcare system and the justice systems and people experiencing chronic health or mental health conditions.

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