Monday, 4 August 2008

Older homeless people 'slipping under the radar'

One of the nation's largest providers of homeless services says official statistics underestimate the number of older homeless people.

The latest figures on homelessness from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare suggest around 11,000 homeless people - about 10 per cent of the total - are aged 50 or over.

But the welfare agency Mission Australia believes the figure is much higher than that.

Mission Australia's spokeswoman Leonie Green says many in this group are slipping under the radar because they tend not to access services in the same way younger homeless people do.

"So they'll remain, as a demographic, unserviced, and certainly in the community where we want to support our most vulnerable people, that's not going to happen," she said.

Ms Green has called on the Federal Government to address the problem in its white paper on homelessness due out next month.

She says as the population ages and accommodation pressures increase, the lack of services will become even more apparent.

"So now is really the time that we need to identify that we have an issue and identify how all of the different governments can work together and to fill that gap that fill these people's specific needs," she said.


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