Homelessness in our community
Like many other places throughout Australia, homelessness is a growing challenge in Greater Bendigo with more and more people seeking help from local support services.
Helping people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness is a responsibility shared between many organisations.
As the City of Greater Bendigo does not own or manage housing or provide homelessness support services, we work closely with local support services like Haven; Home, Safe that can help.
Who provides housing and accommodation for people experiencing homelessness?
The Victorian Government, local support services like Haven; Home, Safe and some local charities provide housing or short-term accommodation options.
What is the City of Greater Bendigo’s role?
We do not own or manage housing, and do not place people into housing.
When we become aware of someone experiencing or at risk of homelessness, we let a local support service like Haven; Home, Safe know. Their trained staff then try to make contact and offer help.
We advocate to other levels of government and the private sector for investment in suitable housing. We also plan for population growth and identify suitable areas for housing development.
For safety reasons, our staff are required to inspect all squats in community facilities (e.g. public toilets) and private buildings. If a community facility has been damaged or left in a mess, we fix this up.
You can report instances of this to us by emailing [email protected] or call 1300 002 642.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare considers someone to be homeless if they are living in non-conventional accommodation (such as living in a public place) or in emergency or other short-term accommodation.
Having access to safe and stable accommodation and the ability for privacy are fundamental human rights. People experiencing homelessness are more at risk of death, disability and chronic illness. (Source: Australian Human Rights Commission)
Homelessness is not always obvious.
‘Rough sleepers’ (e.g. people living in public places) are the most visual homeless group. An example of a less visual homeless group is people temporarily living with relatives or friends (e.g. ‘couch surfers’). Rough sleepers make up just a small number of people experiencing homelessness at any given time.
In 2020/2021, specialist homelessness services across Australia helped nearly 278,300 people. Of these people:
- 33% were from a lone-parent household
- 60% were female
- 16% were children under the age of 10
- 12% were children and youth aged 10-17
- 18% were adults aged 25-34
- 8% of the total females were aged 55+
- 9.5% of the total males were aged 55+
(Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)
In Greater Bendigo in March 2021, there was an identified need for at least another 2,730 homes for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. (Source: City of Greater Bendigo Affordable Housing Action Plan)
This number is likely to have grown since 2021.
People’s experiences of homelessness differ. This is because homelessness can result from many different social, health and economic-related factors. Some examples of these factors include:
- relationship breakdown
- domestic or family violence
- ill health (including mental ill health)
- substance misuse
- lack of affordable housing
- increases in living costs
- unemployment or underemployment
The line between having a home or not can change quickly; it does not take much to tip people at risk of homelessness into actual homelessness. In 2021, research identified that between 8.5 per cent and 11.7 per cent of Australia’s total population aged 15+ were at risk of homelessness. For Greater Bendigo, this equates to between 10,700 and 14,750 people. (Source: Swinburne University)
If you are currently experiencing or at risk of homelessness, you can call the Victorian State-wide Homelessness Line on 1800 825 955 (free call, open 24/7) to be connected with local support services.
If you are impacted by domestic or family violence, you can call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 - (free call, open 24/7) for confidential information and support.
If a person appears distressed or a danger to themselves or others, call 000 (Triple Zero).
If you notice someone who may be rough sleeping or squatting, please let us know by calling 1300 002 642 or by emailing [email protected]. We will share this information with a local support service like Haven; Home, Safe that will try to make contact and offer help.
If you know of someone in unstable accommodation (e.g. couch surfing), encourage them to get in touch with the Victorian State-wide Homelessness Line on 1800 825 955 (free call, open 24/7).
Being homeless and in a public place is not illegal.
Often people experiencing homelessness want to be in a public place because that is where they feel safest and can connect with other people and services. People experiencing homelessness have the same rights as everyone else and should be treated with dignity and respect.
Examples of illegal activity could include:
- causing damage to property
- using drugs
- causing damage to the environment
If you have concerns about illegal activity, call 131 444 or make an online report through the Police Assistance Line and Online Reporting.
For information on the safe retrieval and disposal of needles and syringes, call the Needle and Syringe Program on 1300 365 482.