Homelessness is an increasing problem in Australia, with 116,000 people experiencing or at risk of homelessness each night . While seven per cent of these individuals are ‘sleeping rough’, situations of homelessness also include the many others caught in unsuitable or unstable accommodation, from couch-surfing and car-sleeping to temporary refuges and transitional housing.
Here is a give list of not-for-profit organisations working to provide suitable housing, essential services, and systems-level or policy change to alleviate the instances, impact and causes of homelessness in Australia.
While the entities listed below are all known to APS, we do not conduct a detailed analysis of their financial position and governance ahead of their inclusion in this list. This is not an exhaustive list of the many not-for-profit organisations working in this space.
The Constellation Project
The Constellation Project exists to identify and accelerate solutions to homelessness through cross-sector collaboration. It brings together corporates, governments, academia, philanthropists, not-for-profits, and those with lived experience of homelessness, to combine their unique expertise. They look for the gaps in all the work that is happening on homelessness and housing in Australia, to seek out the ideas that need development so they are ready for implementation. The organisation is currently focused on solving the supply shortage of affordable, low-to-medium income housing and supporting young adults transitioning from out-of-home and foster care.
The End Street Sleeping Collaboration
The End Street Sleeping Collaboration is a collaboration between governments, non-governmental organisations, philanthropists, businesses, and the community, committed to the vision that no person should sleep on the streets in NSW. It uses an internationally recognised methodology to reduce homelessness and its associated impacts. The approach includes providing front-line caseworkers with technology to collect and share real-time multi-issue case histories of ‘individual stories’, enabling multiple services and agencies to deliver optimum support. It also provides governments and non-governmental organisations with evidence-based-data for evaluating and developing relevant systems and policies (i.e. health, mental health, social services, justice, housing, and care) to bring about wider systems change.
The Footpath Library
The Footpath Library aims to make books available to people experiencing homelessness, encourage literacy and raise awareness around homelessness. It supplies free, excellent quality books through the installation and stocking of libraries in refuges, shelters, and hostels, as well as mobile libraries that take food for the mind and soul to the streets.
The Foyer Foundation
Foyers is an integrated housing, education and employment model working with young people aged 16 – 24 years at risk of or experiencing homelessness. While there are programs in both the education and homelessness sectors that seek to support young people experiencing disadvantage, there are almost no fully integrated service models focused on education and employment outcomes. The key to the model lies in the provision of stable accommodation for up to two years, alongside Foyers providing the time, mentoring, coaching and support to help them access relevant opportunities.
Good360 connects charities, schools and society’s most vulnerable with businesses willing to donate unsold or surplus goods, services and disaster recovery essentials. Their mission is to ensure the excess goods and services businesses produce every year flow to people in need rather than going to waste. The result is a Circle of Good that reduces need and waste in communities at the same time, so everyone benefits – from people to the planet. A significant proportion of the charities and schools Good360 supports are working in the housing and homelessness space. Good360 supports services to assist individuals with essentials including warm clothing and blankets and furniture, homewares and electricals to help in setting up temporary, transitional or permanent accommodation.
HoMie is an ethical Australian-made brand, with a flagship store in Fitzroy, Melbourne. This social enterprise is Australia’s first retail clothing store and fashion label to provide brand-new clothing and occupational training to young people experiencing homelessness. HoMie selects young people from partnered Alliance Support Services to participate in an eight-month, paid, on-the-job work experience at the HoMie Street Store or a HoMie Alliance trained business, resulting in a certificate, work experience, and life skills.
Kids Under Cover
Kids Under Cover works to prevent youth homelessness and keep families together. The organisation provides relocatable studios that offer stable and secure accommodation for young people at risk of homelessness, as well as scholarships for education or job training to empower young people to achieve their goals and remain connected to education and the community.
Lighthouse Foundation was founded in 1997 and provides long-term residential care for young people experiencing homelessness who come from backgrounds of long-term neglect and abuse. It provides them with a home, a sense of family, and therapeutic care. They have ten homes located in suburban Melbourne and a Youth Resource Centre in Richmond, Melbourne. Lighthouse supports over 900 young people annually to break the cycle of homelessness, move into employment and educational opportunities, and overcome damaging life experiences.
Mission Australia is a non-denominational Christian charity that helps vulnerable Australians move towards independence. The organisation supports people nationwide by combatting homelessness, assisting disadvantaged families and children, addressing mental health issues, fighting substance dependencies, and much more.
Orange Sky provides a service for everyday Australians to connect through a regular laundry and shower service. The focus is on creating a safe, positive and supportive environment for people who are too often ignored or who feel disconnected from the community. Orange Sky vans are fitted out with mobile laundry and shower facilities. While people do their laundry, volunteers are on hand to have a drink and a chat with them. The volunteers are not social workers or experts on homelessness – they are empathetic listeners and great conversationalists.
Pets in the Park
Pets in the Park offers free veterinary clinics and treatments for pets of people experiencing homelessness. Pets can offer companionship, emotional support and security – basic human needs that are often not met elsewhere. Although pet ownership greatly enriches people’s lives, it also comes at a significant financial cost. Annual vaccinations, flea treatment, routine worming, and de-sexing and microchipping an animal costs hundreds of dollars. Free pet clinics in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane also provide opportunities for other social services who Pets in the Park works with to connect with and improve the wellbeing of people experiencing homelessness.
STREAT runs social enterprise cafes in Melbourne where young people who experiencing or are at risk of homelessness get employment training and a job. Proceeds from the cafes support 70% of the costs of running STREAT.
Streetside Medics, established in 2020, is a mobile medical centre for the homeless community of NSW. The service operates from a mobile medical van which ensures that they are able to reach the homeless community across multiple locations. Each doctor in the van is an RACGP accredited General practitioner and vans are fitted with the necessary equipment to provide primary healthcare services to the standard of a typical general practice. They also partner with a number of homeless services in areas with demographically high concentrations of homelessness in order to improve patient participation. Services are at no personal charge to patients regardless of healthcare status.
StreetSmart raises funds to supports smaller grassroots organisations that provide services to people experiencing homelessness. The aim of StreetSmart is to simultaneously break down inaccurate prejudices about homelessness, raise vital funds for important smaller, local organisations and strengthen them through collaboration and connecting them to their community.
Stepping Stone House
Based in Sydney, Stepping Stone House provides a safe place for children and young people at risk of, or currently experiencing homelessness so they can begin to heal, build resilience, create connections and become the very best they can be. Many of the young people Stepping Stone House supports have experienced domestic violence, sexual and emotional abuse, alcoholism and drug addiction. Around 30% of the young people have been forced to leave home because of their sexuality. To support young people facing these difficult situations, long-term shelter and support programs are critical. Stepping Stone House is a dedicated community, providing long-term accommodation and support for young people aged 12 – 24 years old.
The Wayside Chapel
The Wayside Chapel operates in Kings Cross, Sydney, working with people experiencing homelessness from all backgrounds and walks of life. With the motto ‘no us and them’ – they break down the barriers of judgement and provide safe place where people from all walks of life are welcome. Wayside Chapel operates on a walk-in basis, whereby visitors find assistance with basic needs including showers, clothing, information and phone calls. Support workers and care coordinators also assist with applications, referrals linking visitors to agencies for housing, health, legal and financial support. Wayside Chapel also provides outreach services to ensure support is provided to those who are most marginalised, isolated and at risk, especially those dealing with homelessness.
Last updated December 2023