Statistics hiding the problem of homelessness in the Central West

Toni Parker

Toni Parker

Orange has bucked the trend of rising homelessness in the official numbers as homeless week draws to a close, but experts on the ground say the statistics aren’t showing the full story.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals the level of homelessness dropped from the 2011 to 2016 census with just 66 people recorded as homeless from our 41,384 residents on the night of the 2016 census. 

However, Housing Plus’ homelessness and housing support services had 1232 people who were either homeless or at high risk of homelessness access its services in the 2017-2018 financial year, following on from 913 in 2016-17. 

Homelessness and housing support services team leader Toni Parker said homelessness was incredibly difficult to keep statistics on and the numbers were “absolutely” hiding a bigger problem, and the ABS may have recorded 66 on the one night instead of across a longer timeframe. 

The ABS recorded 159 people per 100,000 as homeless in Orange, compared to 372 for Bathurst, 278 for Lithgow and 195 for Mudgee. 

Dubbo and Wellington’s statistics were muddied by council amalgamations between the 2011 and 2016 censuses, but the Western Plains local government area recorded 359 people as homeless in 2016.  

“I don’t know much about Bathurst, but the further west you go the harder it is to find crisis accommodation,” Mrs Parker said. 

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