Mission Australia has urged the community to donate this festive season to help support the increasing numbers of vulnerable individuals and families who are homeless so they can find a safe, secure home.
Mission Australia’s CEO Sharon Callister said: “This year in particular, we’ve seen really quite bleak circumstances which have pushed more people into homelessness and financial distress.
"Without a doubt, Australia’s homelessness crisis has now escalated to an emergency.
"Christmas will be an anxious time for many, especially for the increasing numbers of people and families without a safe place to call home.
“There’s not nearly enough social and affordable housing, we’ve had really tough economic times causing living and rental costs to rise, and people are going through challenges like domestic and family violence, mental health concerns and natural disasters."
Mission Australia has launched its Christmas Safe Homes campaign to help support these families in need.
“People who have never been homeless are struggling to make ends meet and find a safe, secure home – and they’re asking us for help," Ms Callister said.
"Our frontline staff have seen a flood of people seeking support from our homelessness and housing services, with demand increasing by 26 per cent over the past three years.
“Far too many people have to make hard choices – between putting food on the table, paying the power bill or paying the rent.
"This year, our staff have told us the housing situation is the worst they’ve ever seen it and there’s not enough affordable housing for everyone who needs it.
“We also know that at Christmas time, financial and other pressures can increase, and we anticipate this will again be the case this year given the massive trials faced by people in 2023.
“We hope people see our Christmas campaign and start to rethink their understanding of homelessness and understand that it happens to people that we know like our families, colleagues, friends or neighbours.”
Sharing real stories of everyday people who have become homeless in Australia, Mission Australia’s Christmas campaign highlights that every hour, 3,000 people in Australia seek help from homelessness services like those provided by Mission Australia (AIHW 2022). That’s 3,000 Australians. 3,000 stories. Every hour.
These are some real stories behind these numbers featured in the campaign:
Eight-year-old Ruby* who has been living in a garage because her Dad, Justin* can’t afford to keep up with the ongoing rent increases.
Single mum Laura* and her son Ollie*, who were forced to sleep in their car after escaping a violent partner.
Donna*, whose home was lost when a flood destroyed her regional community.
This year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics data from the 2021 Census revealed that more than 122,000 people are homeless in Australia; an increase of 5.2% since the 2016 Census. Most are facing hidden homelessness (94%), which means they’re staying in severely overcrowded dwellings, refuges, boarding houses, or temporarily living with friends or family.
As a Christian charity focussed on ending homelessness in Australia and ensuring people and communities in need can thrive, Ms Callister says urgent help is needed to support and stop the growing number of people becoming homeless.
“Our staff, volunteers and supporters are committed to creating hope and opportunity for the people we assist, particularly at this time of increased need and the Christmas period.
“We know that people are doing it tough. But we hope that those who can, consider donating to help people struggling to keep themselves and their families safe, well and housed.
“We are so grateful to everyone who has donated to and supported Mission Australia, we simply couldn’t do what we do without your help. All donations help ensure our frontline staff can provide quality support, compassion and care for vulnerable people this Christmas and into 2024.”
Mission Australia is one of Australia’s largest charities with more than 160 years of practical and proven experience working with Australians in need. The Christian homelessness charity has more than 2,200 staff and 465 programs and services, and invests in housing, services and programs to help end homelessness in Australia and ensure people and communities in need can thrive.