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Wave of Disadvantage Report shows increase in homelessness imminent

Homelessness NSW, Yfoundations and DV NSW have today called for urgent action to address the impending increase in homelessness across NSW. The Wave of Disadvantage report finds that a 24% increase in homelessness is likely due to the economic impacts of COVID19. More than one third of all people accessing homelessness services are women and children escaping domestic and family violence and 19,000 young people sought assistance from NSW homelessness services in 2018/2019.

The report models the impact of rising unemployment by June 2021 when JobKeeper has ceased and if JobSeeker returns to its previous rate. It looks at how this will affect progress with key targets set out in the NSW Premier’s Priorities. Key findings include an expected increase in homelessness of up to 9,000 people with the main impacts occurring in inner Sydney, Newcastle and the Hunter and the Mid-Far North Coast – with these areas experiencing up to a 40% increase in homelessness.

“Prior to this year homeless services were already seeing 27% more clients then they were funded for, said Ms Katherine McKernan CEO of Homelessness NSW. ‘And in 2020 services have had to scramble with little additional funding to support people experiencing homelessness through bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Already there is evidence that the pandemic and associated lockdowns have increased rates of domestic violence, mental distress, housing stress and further, hurt the academic performance of children and young people,” said Ms Delia Donovan Interim CEO of DV NSW.

“Concernedly, the report shows a 41 per cent increase of reported domestic violence between May and June 2020 across some regions of NSW compared to the same period in 2019. We have welcomed the NSW Government committing to COVID funding for domestic and family services, however, assurances to core funding continues to be an essential issue and based on the findings in this report. We know services are struggling to meet demand- they require a targeted and integrated response from Government.” said Ms Donovan.

“We know that young people bore the brunt of the last economic downturn. The average income of 15 to 24-year-olds fell 1.6 per cent per annum between 2008 and 2018, as those starting out in a weak job market were pushed into low-paid, part-time or unstable work. Meanwhile, older Australian’s pay continued to rise”, said Ms Pam Barker CEO of Yfoundations.

“The COVID-19 recession has hit 15 to 24-year-olds even harder, as many of the industries they’ve come to rely on for work – such as hospitality and tourism – have been devastated. Our young people are now being pushed off the jobs ladder altogether, and into homelessness. This situation will only worsen as Jobkeeper ends, and Jobseeker returns to its old, unlivable rate,” said Ms Barker.

Unfortunately, already under the pump homeless services are facing a cut to their funding and can no longer expect the same level of philanthropic and charitable donations.

“Homelessness services in NSW are facing an up to $8 million Commonwealth funding cut and currently do not have funding certainty for the NSW component of their funding,” said Ms McKernan.

“During 2020 homelessness and specialist domestic and family violence services have demonstrated how essential they are so now is the time for Commonwealth and NSW Government to ensure they take a proactive approach, especially as the NSW budget is about to be announced and noting the crucial information contained in this report.” said Ms Donovan.

“The ongoing lack of investment into the Youth homelessness sector with the combined effects of Covid- 19, will see young people being turned away due to a lack of resources,” said Ms Barker.

‘With the NSW Budget due in a few weeks we have been encouraged by comments made by the Treasurer about increased funding for social housing, but without an increase in the funding for homelessness services we may well be setting up people to fail if we are unable to support them in their accommodation, said Ms McKernan.

A Wave of Disadvantage Report findings

  • Areas with the highest levels of unemployment by June 2021 include: Newcastle and Lake Macquarie (12.3 per cent), Coffs Harbour – Grafton (12.2 per cent), Sydney – City and Inner South (11 per cent) and Sydney – Parramatta and Sydney – Blacktown (10.6 per cent).
  • The number of 20-24 year olds in NSW experiencing high or very high mental distress will increase by up to 16.8 per cent.
  • Higher unemployment alone will lead to rates of domestic violence increasing by up to 5.5 per cent in some regions of NSW, with COVID-19 lockdowns already having caused alarming spikes in reports to police.
  • More than 9,000 additional people in NSW will be homeless – a rise of 24.0 per cent in the homeless population. Some regions will see a 40.5 per cent increase in homelessness.
  • The number of NSW families experiencing housing stress will increase by more than 88,000 or 24.3 per cent.
  • There will be 27,447 more children at risk of neglect across NSW, a 24.5 per cent rise due to increased unemployment.
  • Mean NAPLAN scores in Year 9 maths will fall by 23.5 points (3.5 per cent) in 2021 compared to 2019, with some areas improving and other areas, including those with a high proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students falling more than 6 per cent.

Media contacts

Katherine McKernan – CEO Homelessness NSW – 0425 288 446

Delia Donovan – Interim CEO Domestic Violence NSW – 0400 936 192

Pam Barker – CEO Yfoundations – 0425 228 758

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