100 Families WA

The 100 Families WA Baseline Report demonstrates how the disadvantage experienced by those living in hardship in Perth spans multiple domains of socioeconomic wellbeing, including housing, and is deep and persistent.

The 100 Families WA Baseline Report released this month by the 100 Families Project is a collective action research project with a vision to address the issue of entrenched disadvantage or hardship, as experienced by families living in Western Australia (WA). The project team is made up of a number of partner organisations. At The University of Western Australia the partners are the Centre for Social Impact UWA, the School of Population and Global Health and the Social Policy, Practice and Research Consortium. The not-for-profit service partners are Anglicare, Centrecare, Jacaranda Community Centre, Mercycare, Ruah Community Services, Uniting Care West, Wanslea, and WACOSS.

The Report provides insights into the hardship and disadvantage currently experienced by families across Western Australia.

It seeks to build a deep, rich understanding of entrenched disadvantage in Western Australia by researching with rather than on those experiencing it.

The data from the project includes a longitudinal survey conducted with 400 families across Perth, fortnightly qualitative interviews with 100 of the 400 families, data linkage processes linking survey responses with WA health, research translation workshops, continuing conversations following baseline results, and policy and practice workshops.

This report presents the results of the baseline survey and examines the data in the following key domains: demographics, family and household composition, income, material deprivation, social and personal connections, health status, employment status, mental health outcomes, substance use, wellbeing, and quality of life and adverse life experiences.

In relation to Housing, some of the accommodation circumstances of the night before survey were: One in three males and one in 10 females (17.3% overall) were homeless at the time of the survey, 41.5% were living in public or community housing, and 31.8% were in private rental accommodation. Over half (51.8%) had experienced homelessness.

Almost 33.0% of males versus 9.7% females reported experiencing homelessness the night before survey; 14.0% of males were rough sleeping compared with 3.6% of females, 1.7% of males and 1.4% of females were staying with friends and family due to having nowhere else to stay, 7.4% and 2.9% of males and females, respectively were living in short-medium term accommodation, and 9.9% of males and 1.8% of females were living in temporary accommodation the night before survey.

Public and community housing was the most common type of home (41.5% of family members) and for both genders, with 44.0% of females and 36.4% of males residing in public or community housing the night before survey. Among those who were housed, public housing was the most common type of home (41.5% of family members). This was followed by private rental with one third (31.8%) residing in private rental accommodation the night before the survey (35.7% of females and 23.1% of males). Almost 10% (9.5%) of 100 Families WA family members (10.5% of females and 7.4% of males) owned their own house (with or without a mortgage). though almost.

The stressors of having to pay the rent or mortgage is highlighted in the way a low income contributes to entrenched disadvantage. If income is limited, so is one’s ability to meet their needs and the needs of their family.

Three quarters (75.3%) of family members reported that income support payments (Centrelink payments) were their sole source of personal income, that is, that they received no wage or salary-based income. Almost 1 in 3 (31.3%) could not pay the rent or mortgage on time, and 23.3% were unable to heat their homes in the year prior to survey. In terms of housing, 0.3% of Australians versus 18.5% of 100 Families WA family members indicated that they cannot afford a decent and secure home; less than 1% (0.7%) of Australians, compared with 16.3% of family members, cannot afford a home with doors and windows that are secure. Further, 2.3% of Australians and 19.0% of family members cannot afford a roof and gutters that do not leak.

More than 1 in 5 (21.8%) of those renting had overdue rent and almost 1 in 3 100 Families WA family members (31.0%) with debt reported that they had had to move home as a result of their debt.

The 100 Families WA Baseline Report provides seminal information on entrenched disadvantage, including housing costs, and how it's contributing to a continuing cycle of disadvantage.

The pressure of paying the rent or mortgage as the report explains is a financial stressor which forces people into behaviours required to alleviate those stressors. Pawning, selling things and taking on risky debt – reflect the compounding impact of poverty. This stress can lead to a reduced mental wellbeing.

It is clear the family members who are participating on this project are concerned about fulfilling the most basic need of shelter for them and their families, with access to those essential aspects of life forgone due to a lack of affordability.

“These findings show us the critical need for access to safe, secure social and affordable housing. Also the need to increase rent assistance and other income support payments to enable people to get out of poverty,” said Michelle Mackenzie, Chief Executive Officer of Shelter WA.

“Investment in social housing is a core responsibility of government, and they have dropped the ball. We urge this government to increase investment is social and affordable homes by harnessing the strengths of the community housing sector to deliver the housing our community desperately needs.”

The full report can be read here.



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