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  • The research found the greatest number of people at-risk of homelessness are in NSW, VIC, and QLD
  • The highest rates of risk per 10,000 are in the NT, followed by QLD, and SA
  • The suburbs with the highest rates of people at risk are in remote areas and in small pockets of capital cities

Between 1.5 and 2 million Australian renters (aged 15 and above) are at risk of homelessness, according to a new report by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.

The research found the greatest number of people at-risk of homelessness are in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, the three most populous states.

However, the highest rates of risk per 10,000 are in the Northern Territory, followed by Queensland, and South Australia. The lowest rates of risk are in the Australian Capital Territory, followed by Victoria.

“A person is considered at-risk of homelessness if they live in rental housing and are experiencing at least two of the following: low-income; vulnerability to discrimination; low social resources and supports; needing support to access or maintain a living situation (due to chronic ill health, disability, mental illness or problematic use of alcohol and other drugs); and are in a tight housing market.”

Launch Housing and Swinburne University post-doctoral research fellow Deborah Batterham

The suburbs with the highest rates of people at risk are in remote areas and in small pockets of capital cities, while the greatest number of people at-risk of homelessness are living in greater capital cities on the eastern coast of Australia.

Property policy development

The report suggests increasing the supply of rental housing affordable to those on low-incomes.

“The lack of affordable rental housing for low-income households, be it private rental or social housing, intersects with the low-incomes of those at-risk amplifying the multiple and intersecting forms of disadvantage they experience,” states the report.

The report suggested private rental access programs which provide ongoing rent subsidies for people at imminent risk of homelessness, as well as the payment of rent arrears and advocacy with landlords, are services which could be targeted to areas with larger numbers of people at-risk.


Dr Batterham said, “We can’t reduce homelessness by solely responding to people when they present to homelessness services, instead we have to turn off the tap up stream, as it were, by delivering preventative interventions that are tailored for specific areas.

“Understanding the population at-risk of homelessness is critical in designing and implementing such interventions.”

The report found those at risk of homelessness are more likely to be female; Indigenous; living in a lone person or lone parent household; identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual; and report fair or poor health. Those at-risk have lower levels of educational attainment, are more likely to report difficulty paying bills and rent on time, and are more likely to experience a range of indicators of material deprivation such as skipping meals and being unable to heat their home.

Areas with greatest rate of homelessness risk

New South Wales

SA2 Area Percentage
Warwick Farm 21.1%
Fairfield 20.0%
Ashcroft – Busby – Miller 18.2%
Tamworth – West 17.9%
Bidwill – Hebersham – Emerton 17.7%
Riverwood 17.6%
Mount Hutton – Windale 17.1%
Shortland – Jesmond 16.8%
Bourke – Brewarrina 16.8%
Lakemba 16.7%


SA2 Area Percentage
Carlton 22.6%
Melbourne 19.8%
Flemington 19.7%
North Melbourne 17.4%
Clayton 16.8%
Collingwood 16.8%
Footscray 16.7%
Broadmeadows 16.0%
Dandenong 15.9%
Fitzroy 15.4%


SA2 Area Percentage
Aurukun 50.4%
Kowanyama – Pormpuraaw 47.5%
Palm Island 46.2%
Torres Strait Islands 43.4%
Yarrabah 42.5%
Northern Peninsula 42.1%
Carpentaria 30.9%
Cape York 25.1%
Manoora 25.0%
Bundaberg 22.6%

 South Australia

SA2 Area Percentage
APY Lands 40.0%
Elizabeth 23.4%
Smithfield – Elizabeth North 20.4%
Christie Downs 17.6%
Davoren Park 17.5%
Adelaide 17.1%
The Parks 16.3%
Berri 16.0%
Hackham West – Huntfield Heights 16.0%
Enfield – Blair Athol 15.8%

 Western Australia

SA2 Area Percentage
Roebuck 32.9%
Halls Creek 32.1%
Derby – West Kimberley 30.0%
Leinster – Leonora 20.8%
Mandurah 18.6%
Kununurra 18.2%
Withers – Usher 16.5%
Bentley – Wilson – St James 16.4%
Willagee 14.2%
Geraldton 13.6%


SA2 Area Percentage
Bridgewater – Gagebrook 23.1%
Ravenswood 21.1%
Invermay 21.1%
Mowbray 20.7%
Rokeby 16.9%
Glenorchy 16.6%
Acton – Upper Burnie 16.3%
Newnham – Mayfield 16.2%
Hobart 15.9%
Mornington – Warrane 15.9%

 Northern Territory

SA2 Area Percentage
Tiwi Islands 48.1%
Yuendumu – Anmatjere 46%
East Arnhem 45.4%
Thamarrurr 41.4%
West Arnhem 41.4%
Tanami 38.5%
Gulf 36.3%
Elsey 35.4%
Barkly 34.9%
Victoria River 33.5%


SA2 Area Percentage
Reid 17.2%
Belconnen 14.7%
Turner 14.6%
Dickson 14.0%
Braddon 13.6%
Canberra East 13.1%
Lyneham 12.9%
Downer 12.0%
O’Connor 12..0%
Lyons 11.9%

*Per 10,000 people

Source: AHURI

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