Under the 2020-2023 HBNC Strategic Plan, "reducing homelessness" was identified as one of 10 key focus areas. This excerpt from HBNC CEO Tanya Stevenson's research paper demonstrates why homelessness needs to be addressed as a matter of priority.

NB: This paper was published in 2019. Current youth homelessness statistics can be found here.


Relationship and family breakdowns are the leading trigger for the first instance of homelessness. The recent Youth Survey (HBNC 2019) surveyed over 5000 young people in the Fraser Coast with more than 24% stating that they didn’t live with their parents and 14% stating that they did not feel safe at home. Young people seeking assistance from specialist homelessness services commonly cite family breakdown and family violence as reasons for seeking help. Public housing has increased to now over 70,000 people waiting on the public housing list further exacerbating our already high rental vulnerability issues.

The Kindness Garden provides a safe place to sleep for people experiencing homelessness.

Food security

Every day there are people in our community dealing with the anguish and despair of not knowing where the next meal will come from for themselves and their families. Despite Australia’s reputation as the ‘lucky country’, hunger is a reality for 15% of Australians. More than one in five children in Australia live in a food insecure household, that is 22% of children are experiencing food insecurity. In fact, it is more likely for a child to live in a food insecure household than an adult.

Going hungry is a common occurrence for many children. One in three parents living in food insecure households (32%) say their children do not have enough to eat at least once a month because they cannot afford to buy enough food. One in five parents living in food insecure households (22%) say their child goes a whole day without eating any fresh food at least once a week. Devastatingly, almost one in ten of these parents (9%) say their children go a whole day without eating at all at least once a week. The cost of living is the main cause of household food insecurity.

Unexpected expenses or large bills (52%) and housing payments (38%) are two of the most prominent causes of food insecurity in households with children under the age of 15. The cost of living forces parents to choose between paying their bills and feeding their family. More than half of parents (56%) have not paid bills in order to have enough money to buy food for their household.

More than half of parents in food insecure households (51%) expect it to become more challenging to provide food for their family in the future as the cost of living continues to rise. For these parents, bills (32%) and housing costs (18%) seem to be getting more expensive. Parents notice a number of changes to their children’s wellbeing as a result of food insecurity.

Eating enough food is crucial for healthy growth and development, particularly amongst children. If a child does not have enough food, or enough healthy food, parents notice changes in their behaviour, and in their emotional and physical wellbeing.  More than half of parents (54%) report changes in their child’s emotions as a result of being hungry, such as more outbursts or tantrums (24%) and a decline in their child’s happiness (24%). One in five parents (22%) say their children become agitated and irritable if they do not have enough to eat. One in six parents (17%) notice their children acting up at school or at home as a result of not having enough food. Parents skip meals, so their children can eat. Almost nine out of 10 parents in food insecure households (87%) have skipped a meal so their children can eat and for 36%, this is a weekly occurrence. At least once a week, three in 10 parents (29%) go a whole day without eating. (The Foodbank Hunger Report, 2017)

Comfort Kitchen provides close to 100 free meals to the community, every Wednesday evening.

In addition to sacrificing their own physical needs, three in four parents living in food insecure households (74%) feel embarrassed or ashamed because they have struggled to provide food for their children (somewhat/strongly agree). Parents tend to rely on family and friends to ensure their children have access to food. When it comes to having enough money to buy food, three in five parents say they borrow money from family and friends (59%).  Parents protect their children from hunger by cutting down on the size of the family’s meals to make the food last longer (49%). In addition, parents may take their children to a family member’s house for a meal (38%), seek food assistance from a charity (34%) or have their children go to a friend’s house for a meal (16%).

Food assistance provides significant benefits for families and children experiencing food insecurity.

Just over half of parents living in food insecure households (54%) have sought food assistance from a charity, with two in five (40%) seeking food assistance in the last 12 months. The provision of food can improve household wellbeing, with almost half of these parents (48%) indicating food assistance helped them to feel less stressed as a family. It can also create positive social relationships, with more than two in five households (45%) feeling supported by their community. On an individual level, food assistance can also significantly benefit children living in food insecure households. Parents most commonly notice that their children feel less hungry (34%) and are happier (33%) when they receive food assistance. One in five parents (20%) also suggest their children have more energy and their behaviour improves.

The cost of living is closely linked to food insecurity. An unexpected expense or large bill (52%) and housing payments (38%) are two of the most prominent causes of food insecurity in households with children under 15. Not only do families have significant bills to manage, many also struggle with low incomes, either receiving low wages or living on a pension (37%). Almost two in five parents (38%) suggest they cannot afford enough food because there is just not enough money in the first place.