Number of older homeless Australians on the rise
THE number of older Australians who are homeless has grown significantly in the past decade, according to a new report.
One-in-six people who were homeless on the night of the nation’s most recent Census in 2016 were aged 55 or older, about 18,600 in total. That marks a 49 per cent hike in the number of homeless people in the age group over the past 10 years, an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report has found, with the figure expected to go up.
“Homelessness is a growing problem for older Australians and will likely continue to increase over time due to an ageing population and declining rates of home ownership among older people,” it said.
The report, which provides a snapshot of the nation’s older population, said the majority of older homeless people are men.
But the number of older women experiencing homelessness has risen by 31 per cent since 2011.
“Factors such as domestic violence, relationship breakdown, financial difficulty and limited superannuation can put older women at risk of homelessness,” the report said.
The number of older Australians seeking assistance from specialist homelessness services also grew by eight per cent on average each year between 2012-13 and 2016-17.
But homelessness is just one issue explored in the report, which is primarily focused on Australians aged 65 and older.
There were about 3.8 million Australians in that age group in 2017, or about one-in-seven people in the country.
The report illustrates the diversity of the nation’s seniors, with one-in-three born overseas and almost one-in-five speaking a language other than English at home.
The government-funded pension remains important for older Aussies, with about 66 per cent receiving at least a partial age pension in June 2017. That proportion is down from 75 per cent in 1997, when 1.7 million older Australians were receiving pensions.
Superannuation has become more vital, with the number of retired Australians aged 45 or older using superannuation as their main source of income up from 12 per cent in 1997 to 25 per cent in 2016/17.
Like the general population, the number of seniors who own their homes without a mortgage has dropped, from 79 per cent in 2003/04 to 76 per cent in 2015/16.
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