New report shows more needs to be done to tackle veteran homelessness

The new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report on veteran homelessness is an alarming insight into the plight of veterans who are struggling to put a roof over their heads.

The report, Use of homelessness services by contemporary ex-serving ADF members: 2011–17, released today, was first announced by the former Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan back in 2016.

It paints a worrying picture of ex-serving Australian Defence Force members and veterans who have had to access homelessness services.

The report found more than 1,200 Army, Air Force and Navy veterans were either homeless or facing homelessness after being discharged between 2011 and 2017.  

The report showed that when veterans started using services, nearly half (46 per cent) were homeless, while more than half (54 per cent) were at risk of not having a place to live.

It found veterans were twice as likely to describe themselves as ‘rough sleepers’ and having no shelter before using services, compared to non-veterans.

A particular concern was the high proportion of younger and female veterans who were forced to access services, including 46 per cent of women who were single parents.

Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness Jason Clare said the report showed we needed to do more to help homeless veterans.

“We know that homelessness is up by almost 14 per cent across Australia, but many organisations like Homelessness NSW tell me that 1 in 10 people sleeping rough are veterans,” he said.

“The RSL has also reported a 25 per cent increase in those seeking housing support,” Mr Clare said.

The report highlights the impact of factors such as mental health, unemployment, housing and financial stress, and domestic and family violence on homelessness among veterans.

Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Shayne Neumann said the report findings were very concerning and a wakeup call for the Government.

“What this report shows is that too many veterans are falling through the cracks and support services are failing our most vulnerable people,” he said.

“Unfortunately, these findings are consistent with those of other recent reviews of veterans’ mental health and wellbeing.

“These reports confirm that the Government needs to do more to support current service personnel when it comes to transition to meet their employment, and health and mental health needs.  

“The report also highlights that we need better information on veterans to understand the issues.

“Veteran homelessness is a national shame and the Government needs to act now to tackle this issue.

“The health and wellbeing of our veterans should be our highest priority,” Mr Neumann said.