Perceptions of Homelessness

In 2014 Homelessness Australia conducted a survey using the PricewaterhouseCoopers mobile phone survey tool, AskU.

Six questions were posed, to gauge the 'person in the street's' understanding and perceptions of homelessness. More than 400 people took part in the survey.

Government polocies require community support, particularly when government spending prioritises programs in one area over another. Without community support, government will perceive a lack of interest, and will allocate funding to areas perceived by the people, and subsequently the government, to be in greater need of support.

The reports of our survey supports previous studies that show people recognise that structural, as well as indivudla factors, or a combination of both, causes homelessness. However, like previous studies, respondents gave more weight to personal issues, such as health and mental health issues, domestic violence, relationship breakdowns and substance abuse.

Who do you think is homeless?

In comparison to the actual homelessness situation, respondents overstaed the number of men, and understated the number of women, who were experiencing homelessness. Additionally, they significantly underestimated the number of children and overestimted those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage who are experiencing homelessness.

Where do they sleep?

Unfortunately, respondents' understanding of where those experiencing homelessness sleep is also incorrect. The public think that most of those experiencing homelessness sleep rough, or in makeshift accommodation. The media perpetuates this stereotype, when news articles regarding homelessness are accompanied by photos of rough sleepers.

Why do you think people become homeless?

Our snapshot of people's thoughts on the contributing reasons for homelessness is interesting. Most thought mental and/or health issues or drug/alcohol issues were the main drivers, and that money programs/housing affordability was on par with domestic violence.

 pdfRead the full paper here.