Many fac­tors con­tribute to home­less­ness, such as lack of afford­able hous­ing, finan­cial issues, fam­i­ly vio­lence, rela­tion­ship break­down, and loss of employ­ment. In Tas­ma­nia sta­tis­tics show that the most com­mon rea­son for peo­ple seek­ing help with accom­mo­da­tion is the lack of afford­able housing.

Home­less­ness in Tas­ma­nia can be invis­i­ble. Nine­ty per cent of those expe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness are either couch surf­ing or sleep­ing in over­crowd­ed accom­mo­da­tion. The main rea­son fam­i­lies need to access Mag­no­lia Place LWS is because they are escap­ing part­ner vio­lence. A house isn’t a home when it isn’t a safe place to be. Fam­i­ly vio­lence is one of the hid­den caus­es of homelessness.

It is very cost­ly for peo­ple who rent to con­tin­u­al­ly move because of lease expi­ra­tion, unaf­ford­able rent, or through oth­er cir­cum­stances. This sit­u­a­tion, com­bined with a low income, can cre­ate an increased finan­cial hard­ship. On top of the usu­al house­hold costs, the cost of removals, as well as pay­ing rent and bond in advance, is often an impos­si­bil­i­ty. This can mean a huge demand for cri­sis accom­mo­da­tion. There are count­less mis­con­cep­tions and stig­ma asso­ci­at­ed with home­less­ness, includ­ing the rea­sons why a per­son might be in that situation.

A sur­vey was dis­trib­uted to women in the Shel­ter ask­ing how it made them feel to be expe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness. The answers were hon­est and heartfelt:

  • Embar­rassed”
  • Aban­doned, lost, bro­ken-heart­ed, have noth­ing. Can’t climb the ladder…too far down”
  • Judged, vul­ner­a­ble, iso­lat­ed, insignif­i­cant and no sense of belonging”
  • Stressed, help­less, unsafe in ways, unable to pro­vide prop­er­ly for my fam­i­ly, sad and ashamed”
  • Vul­ner­a­ble”
  • Inse­cure, anx­ious, no sense of belong­ing, an emo­tion­al train wreck. Chil­dren feel the same”
  • Wor­ried, espe­cial­ly about my children”
  • Ter­ri­ble and useless”

No one in this lucky coun­try” of Aus­tralia should be in a sit­u­a­tion that makes them feel as despon­dent as the answers above. It could hap­pen to any one of us! We all have a right to a warm, safe, afford­able home.

Mag­no­lia Place LWS cur­rent­ly has 29 short term units sup­port­ing women and chil­dren tem­porar­i­ly until they find longer-term accom­mo­da­tion. It is often dif­fi­cult for fam­i­lies to move on from the shel­ter in a short time frame because of a lack of afford­able exit points. Mag­no­lia Place LWS works with­in the Homes Tas­ma­nia Hous­ing Con­nect sys­tem, where many ser­vices work col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly to sup­port peo­ple expe­ri­enc­ing homelessness. 

Please give a thought to the many vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in our com­mu­ni­ty who don’t have a place to call home. Think about what you may be able to do to sup­port them. They too have a right to a safe, afford­able home with the secu­ri­ty of tenure.

Mag­no­lia Place LWS is fund­ed by the Crown through Homes Tasmania.