Why Aboriginal homelessness needs a cultural approach

As Australia’s most marginalised group and one of the most poverty-stricken, the housing market continues to leave Aboriginal Australia out in the cold  (figuratively and literally).

Across the country, 1 in 28 are homeless, and 10 times more likely to be homeless than non-Aboriginal Australians; here in WA, the gap is even wider. We have the second-highest rates of Aboriginal homelessness and rough sleeping in the country, yet the lowest rate of non-Aboriginal homelessness.

Through this report, Noongar Mia Mia asks its readers to help make Aboriginal homelessness part of the conversation in our own networks, to raise awareness and help Aboriginal voices be heard. It aims to raise awareness in the broader community about cultural factors and considerations (which mainstream Australia is all-too-often tone-deaf towards) and the importance of self-determination and a cultural approach to housing and homelessness solutions.

Key Findings

  • Kinship is central to Aboriginal society, and a happy family is a source of great strength. Effective approaches to Aboriginal homelessness will be centred around extended families, not just individuals.
  • First Nations peoples deserve agency and choice, particularly in whom they choose to live with. Many want to live with kin, and the best solution lies in housing that is suitable for extended families. They shouldn’t be made to turn kin away, especially when they’re in crisis; at the same time, they urgently need socioeconomic inclusion, so that their kin aren’t in crisis in the first place.
  • Organisations and individuals claiming to “protect” First Nations peoples have often done quite the opposite: taking First Nations peoples away from their families, practicing coercive control and trying to extinguish their culture. This is all very recent. Understandably, many don’t trust wadjela (whitefella) systems, so it’s often easier for Aboriginal organisations to build trust and get a foot in the door; they understand the community, its culture, history and stories, and that feels safe and familiar, particularly to people in crisis.


Read the web report here.