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Sensitivity Warning

First Peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.


This research examines the causes, cultural contextual meanings and safe responses to homelessness for Indigenous Australians in urban settings, using Australian policy, practice and academic literature, together with interviews with stakeholders in four case-study sites.

Two interrelated factors underpin experiences of chronic Indigenous homelessness: 

  • the continuing legacy of colonisation on the physical and mental wellbeing of Indigenous individuals and families, evident in high levels of trauma, often linked to lateral violence within the home and repeated experiences of loss extended across the generations
  • the impact of poverty on access to the private rental market

The most important failure of service delivery to Indigenous populations is lack of housing options. A revolving door of housing and homelessness for Indigenous people is created by: 

  • inadequate funding for homelessness services
  • limited crisis and transitional accommodation
  • the shortage of affordable housing
  • barriers to housing access
  • inadequate attention to tenancy sustainment

Other barriers to accessing priority housing (and waiting lists) include a lack of identity documents; low incomes; problematic housing histories, including rent arrears and other housing debts and warnings for disruptive behaviour; criminal history; lack of a tenancy history; low tolerance for completing forms as well as low literacy—which makes it difficult to understand forms; and lack of a stable address, making it difficult to keep appointments.

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AHURI Final Report 383