There are 15,000 more homeless people in Australia than there were in 2006, according to the latest census figures.
But Sydney is bucking the trend according to a council initiative aimed at reducing the number of rough sleepers in the city.
The national figures, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on November 12, show that on census night last year 105,237 people spent the night homeless, a 17 per cent increase (or 15,509 more people) over 2006.
Of those homeless, 17,845 were under 12 years old, 2,130 more children than in 2006.
“The number of severely crowded dwellings has risen and left child safety across Australia at risk,” said ABS assistant statistician Bob McColl.
After the homeless rate dropped 5.9 per cent between 2001 and 2006 census, the 2011 increase was unexpected.
The City of Sydney’s Street Count organisation found the rate of homelessness in Sydney City had dropped by more than 100 in the past 12 months.
Every six months, Street Count runs a head count of all homeless people sleeping on the street in the City of Sydney precinct. Its August 2008 statistics recorded 823 homeless people in the city. In August this year it found only 702 homeless in the city.
The Salvation Army’s most recent statistics on homelessness, for 2012, showed 104,676 Australians were homeless – a third of them, about 32,000, between 12 and 25 years old.
Proportionally, the Northern Territory had the highest number of homeless in the country, with 731 homeless per 10,000 population; Tasmania had the lowest, 32 homeless per 10,000 population. – Eddie Mills