Rough sleeping is the most extreme and literal form of homelessness. It includes all kinds of living without access to conventional dwellings such as sleeping in cars, derelict buildings, tents, swags and other types of improvised shelter.
Over the course of a year, many thousands of Victorians find themselves sleeping rough, including on city streets and in parks/gardens, carparks, sporting grounds, bushland areas and coastal reserves. Approximately 8,600 people in these circumstances seek help from government-funded specialist homelessness services.
Rough sleeping is a statewide issue. While it is more visible in Melbourne’s central business district, just as many people are sleeping rough in suburban Melbourne and country Victoria, where it may also be experienced and perceived differently.
Rough sleeping can be experienced by anyone – single adult men and women, and families with dependent children – with some groups more vulnerable such as Aboriginal Victorians, young people, older people and LGBTIQ+ people. Those who sleep rough are among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the community. They experience a range of harms – such as violence, extreme weather conditions and poor diet – with lasting impacts on their health and wellbeing that can worsen over time.