27 March 2023

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Women Form Majority of ‘Newly Homeless’ in 2021 Census


Last week, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its 2021 Census data on estimating homelessness, giving us an in-depth snapshot of the growing issue of homelessness within Australia. Key points from the data include:

  • Women make up the majority of people who were ‘newly homeless’ in the 2021 Census.
  • The number of women and girls experiencing homelessness has increased by around 10% since the 2016 Census.
  • There was a 5.2% increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness nationally between 2016 and 2021 (6,067 people increase).
  • Overall, homelessness increased in every jurisdiction except New South Wales and the Northern Territory.

On Census night in 2021, 122,487 people were identified as experiencing homelessness across Australia, increasing from 116,367 in 2016. However, the Australian homelessness rate (per 10,000 estimated resident population) dropped from 49.8 in 2016 to 48.2 in 2021.

Males made up 55.9% of people experiencing homelessness while females made up 44.1%. However, growth in homelessness among women was dramatically higher than homelessness among men; the largest increase in homelessness for women is for those aged 35-45 and girls under 18.

Of those experiencing homelessness in 2021:

  • 68,516 (55.9%) were male, an increase of 1.6% from 2016.
  • 53,974 (44.1%) were female, an increase of 10.1% from 2016.

Females accounted for 81.7% of the 6,067 increase of people experiencing homelessness in 2021.

Older females were more likely than males to be living in supporting accommodation for the homeless, staying temporarily with other households, and living in severely crowded dwellings.

“Unfortunately, the outcomes of the 2021 Census are not surprising to us here at Catherine House. As a women’s homelessness service, we are struggling to keep up with demand as more and more women desperately require our support. 

On a daily basis, women contact our Intake Service in urgent need of crisis accommodation and support. Many of these women are unable to access social and community housing and private rental accommodation.   

Our service data from 2022, shows a 45% increase in enquiries from 2021, showing an increased demand for our service. Without urgent government intervention, we fear there will be a further increase to women experiencing homelessness. Everyone deserves a safe place to call home.” Julie Duncan, General Manager Catherine House.

As the housing crisis has worsened since 2021, with soaring rents, mortgage rates and extremely low vacancy rates in the rental market, it is certain that if the Census was conducted today, homelessness numbers would be much higher.

Media Contact
Jaylee Cooper
Manager of Philanthropy & Engagement
Catherine House

Contact: 0403 322 703 or [email protected]

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