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Homelessness - the hidden health crisis


Homelessness - the hidden health crisis

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girl sleeping roughPeople experiencing long-term homelessness live an average of 47 years. 

The latest Census data shows more than 122,000 Australians don’t have a safe, dry, place to sleep. Almost a quarter of the homeless are aged 12-24.

Here in Queensland, homelessness rates rose 22 per cent in the four years to 2021-22. 

That’s almost three times the national rate. 

Our most vulnerable neighbours are slipping through the cracks in Queensland’s medical system. 

Will you help us plug those gaps with life-saving facilities?

>Donate today and connect healthcare to Queenslanders experiencing homelessness.

>Learn why Beddown is our 2023 charity partner. 


Health impacts of homelessness

It’s hard to access healthcare when have no access to shelter. And sleeping rough takes its toll:

  • Expose to weather.

  • Poor sleep quality.

  • Hygiene constraints.

  • Food insecurity. 

  • Physical and physiological trauma.

  • Late detection of preventable disease. 

  • Poor access to prevention and screening services.

  • High risk for ‘deaths of despair' - drug overdoses, suicide and alcohol-related disease. 


Research shows people experiencing homelessness are:

  • Most likely to succumb to deaths of despair – drug and alcohol abuse account for just over a third of all deaths. 

  • More than nine times more likely to suicide than the general population. 

  • More than three times as likely to die in a traffic accident

  • More than twice as likely to die from infection

  • More than three times as likely to die from a fall. 


A life expectancy of just 47 years

woman sleeping roughIt’s hard to collect accurate data about people experiencing homelessness. 

Research in the United Kingdom and a study of the homeless population in Perth, Western Australia show a life expectancy of 47 for people experiencing homelessness. That’s more than three decades less than Australia’s national life expectancy of 83 years. 

The University of Western Australia Home2Health team has been documenting deaths in Perth’s homeless community since 2017 as part of a longitudinal study. During 2020, the team recorded 56 known deaths among people experiencing homelessness in Perth. That’s 1.1 deaths per week.

The average age of death was 47 years.

It’s a similar story overseas, where international research consistently reveals a gap in life expectancy of more than 30 years in the UK and USA. In England it’s 47 years for men and 43 years for women experiencing homelessness.

Read more about the health impacts of homelessness   

Beddown website 

Australian Alliance to End Homelessness submission to the Inquiry into the financial administration of homelessness services in Western Australia

Dying and homelessness in Australia: We must measure it better 

Estimating homelessness: Census

Health of people experiencing homelessness 

Homelessness up 22 per cent in Queensland, almost three times the national increase 

Homelessness: A silent killer