Homelessness has risen by more than 50 per cent on the Fraser Coast.
Homelessness has risen by more than 50 per cent on the Fraser Coast. Kat Smith

Many Coast residents 'one pay cheque away' from homelessness

HOMELESSNESS on the Fraser Coast has increased by more than 50 per cent since 2011; a statistic that while shocking, doesn't surprise Hervey Bay Homelessness Alliance Errol Rafter who says it's "only getting worse".

"I thought the numbers would be much worse," he said. "Working for a not-for-profit organisation, I see so many people walk through the door every day needing somewhere to live because they're living out of their car and don't know what to do."

According to the Bureau of Statistics, the number of homeless people on the Fraser Coast jumped from 307 in 2011 to 469 in 2016 - an increase of 52.77 per cent.

Homelessness rates on the Fraser Coast exceeded those of its neighbours including Gympie and Bundaberg.

Gympie had a dramatic rise from 169 people without a home in 2011 to 289 in 2016.

As for Bundaberg, numbers dropped from 589 in 2011 to 408 in 2016, slightly lower than the Fraser Coast.

The same report showed there were 21,715 homeless people in Queensland.

It's been one year since the Hervey Bay Homelessness Alliance was created by Mr Rafter, who said it had grown from just eight members to more than 30.

"We are always going to continue to support homeless people," he said.

"It's not a problem which will be fixed overnight but we need to start doing something.

He said despite homelessness being across all age groups, youths were a priority.

"There appears to be a lot of youth couch surfing or living rough, on the beach or in other situations," he said.

"We need to do something so the government and local council can say 'right, we're going to focus on youth homelessness'."

Which is exactly what happened on Thursday when Hinkler MP Keith Pitt announced more than $1 million would be put towards Reconnect Fraser Coast to tackle the regions homelessness problem.

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Mr Rafter said there was a common misconception surrounding the traits of a homeless person with many assuming they are heavily involved in drugs and alcohol.

"There's so many people who are one pay cheque away from being homeless and a lot of it can be from drug, alcohol or health issues but there are a lot who aren't," he said.

"I've seen quite a few people who have said they had a good job but they lost it after being employed for 20 years and now can't pay rent."

Homelessness in Australia 2016

According to specialist homeless services:

  • 24 per cent of those homeless are because of domestic and family violence.
  • 20 per cent from financial difficulty.
  • 16 per cent from housing crisis.
  • 11 per cent from inappropriate or inadequate dwellings.
  • 8 per cent from other relationship issues.
  • 5 per cent from other accommodation issues.
  • 4 per cent from health issues.
  • 1 per cent from lack of family/community support.
  • There are 105,237 people homeless in Australia.
  • Of these, 56 per cent are male and 44 per cent female.
  •  
  • 255,657 people received support and almost seven million nights of accommodation were provided by specialist homlessness services in 2014-2015.

Figures taken from Homelessness Australia.



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