Children & Homelessness


The early years of life are a crucial period of development for children. Safe and stable living environments ensure children’s long-term well being, the fulfilment of their potential and strong, healthy communities.

Poverty is a major contributing factor to children’s homelessness. One in seven Australian children live in poverty.

Children’s health and education are affected by homelessness. Homelessness inhibits the physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioural development of children. Children who experience repeat periods of homelessness often suffer developmental delays and emotional difficulties.

Homelessness means children are missing out, missing out on the things that other children take for granted, a safe place to sleep every night, school excursions, regular nutritious meals and the opportunity to bring friends home after school.

To view or download a fact sheet from Homelessness Australia on Children and Homelessness please click here:

Homeslesness & Children

To view or download a previous fact sheet from Homelessness Australia on Children and Homelessness please click here

Impacts of Homelessness on Children

Children who are homeless:

• often experience lower levels of safety and security;
• may have lower self esteem and increased anxiety, behavioural issues and mental illness;
• more likely to exhibit signs of distress such as bed-wetting;
• suffer more frequent illnesses such as respiratory infections;
• have higher rates of asthma, recurrent ear infections, vision problems, eczema, and developmental delays;
• are often reliant on hospital emergency departments and outpatient clinics for health care;
• have lower immunisation rates.
• grief and loss due to having to suddenly leave the family pet, a parent, extended family, school or personal belongings behind;
• are more likely to become homeless later in life and raise families who, in turn, also become homeless.


Services that can help

North West Regional Children’s Resource Program (NWCRP)

The North West Regional Children’s Resource Program was developed to assist the homelessness sector in identifying and addressing the specific needs of children experiencing homelessness and family violence. The program provides a range of support to homelessness services in the North and West Metropolitan Region who work with children in homeless families. The program is state-wide with coordinators in each region.

What does the NWCRP do?

  • Information provision & secondary consultation for staff on how best to support children experiencing homelessness
  • Brokerage
  • Community Development – co-facilitating workshops, activities, forums and participating in children’ specific events and festivals.
  • Active involvement in various networks focused on Homelessness Service System Development advocating for children.
  • Direct support to homelessness services in the development of tools, policies and sourcing and facilitation of training that promotes best practice in the support of children and promotion of child safe organisations.
  • Data Collection and Research.
  • Provision of the Homeless Kids Count Website.
  • Support to SAAP agencies with Homelessness Assistance Standards in relation to children’s issues.
  • Developing partnerships with Indigenous communities to raise the profile and support the specific needs of Indigenous children.
  • Developing partnerships with CALD communities to support the specific needs of CALD children.
  • Representation within the Family Violence, Mental Health, Education, Disability, Health and Early Years sectors to raise awareness of the needs of homeless and disadvantaged children.
  • Advocating on behalf of children experiencing homelessness on a range of issues that affect their health, wellbeing and status within our community.
  • Managing a resource library

How to access the program:

Contact Halime or Luisa at:

Merri Outreach Support Service
22 Lakeside Drive, Broadmeadows VIC 3047
Phone 9359-5493
Fax 9357-1090
Email: or

Brokerage & Additional Funding Options

The NWCRP have complied a list of brokerage and funding options.

Note: This information is correct as of November 2012. If you have any queries about any of the funding please contact the relevant organisation directly.

Click here to view or download the list:

Workbook for children experiencing homelessness

A core function of the statewide Children’s Resource Program is to develop resources for children who are experiencing homelessness and family violence. This year we have developed a booklet that aims to provide children with helpful information and options for them to express their feelings and emotions. 

The booklet has been designed, illustrated, and prepared to be available for agencies as a PDF to print for each child accessing your service. We hope that this will encourage meaningful conversation, healing and fun for all ages. If you require any assistance with printing or further information please feel free to contact myself or Luisa.

Please Note: When printing flip on the short edge

The Bright Futures Program

Bright Futures provides enhanced case management and/or group work responses to children whose families are accessing Homelessness and/or Family Violence Services in the North West Metropolitan region of Melbourne. Bright Futures offers 3 streams of support to children and young people.

1. Assessment and development of a case plan
2. Enhanced Case Management
3. Therapeutic Group Work

Stream 1: Assessment and Case Planning

All referrals to the Bright Futures team will enter through Stream 1. In collaboration with the referring agency, the team will conduct an assessment with the child or young person (and caregiver) and develop a case plan specific to their needs.
If specific support needs, which cannot be met by the referring agency, have been identified, the child or young person will enter Stream 2 - Enhanced Case Management.
If support needs may be met by the referring agency, the Bright Futures team will organise a hand-over to go through the case plan with the client, parent/caregiver and referring agency.

Stream 2: Enhanced Case Management

Bright Futures offers enhanced case management for children and young people by providing specialist support to meet the needs identified in their case plan. Enhanced case management involves meeting with families and the client once a week to once a fortnight, depending on need.

The goals of enhanced case management include:

  • Intensive support that is focused on social, recreational, health and educational support needs.
  • Identification and linkages into appropriate services.
  • Supporting positive interactions with peers and family.
  • Minimisation of anxiety and stress related tension caused by various traumatic experiences.
  • Advocacy on the rights of children and young people to access services within their community.

Enhanced case management support is provided for 3 - 6 months.

Stream 3: Group Work Program

The Bright Futures group work program is a therapeutic creative arts group that provides space away from some of the more stressful times that children may have encountered through their experience of homelessness and/or family violence.Therapeutic methods such as art, drama, games and small group discussions are used to create an atmosphere that feels safe and relaxed. Groups explore specific issues faced by participants including family dynamics, understanding and managing strong emotions, looking after oneself, identifying hopes and dreams and strengths.

The goals of the program include:

  • Increasing positive peer interaction
  • Enhancing and building confidence and self-esteem
  • Reducing challenging behavioural issues
  • Alleviating anxiety and stress related tension
  • Reducing Isolation

Eligibility Criteria:

Children aged between 0 -18 years, accompanying their families who are accessing Homelessness Support or Family Violence Services and who are living in the North and West Metropolitan area of Melbourne

Contact details:

For further information or to make a referral please contact Bright Futures on 9359 5493 or via email on 

A step by step guide to making a referral to Child Protection or Child FIRST

Are you are concerned about a child because you have:

• received a disclosure from a child about abuse or neglect
• observed indicators of abuse or neglect
• been made aware of possible harm via your involvement in the community external to your professional role

This guide contains phone numbers for all relevant services and areas. You can download the step by step Guide to making a referral to Child Protection or Child FIRST here: 

Research & Resources

Seen & Heard Report - Putting Children on the Homelessness Agenda

In 2009-10, more than 84,000 children (under 18 years) across Australia accompanying their parent or guardian accessed a specialist homelessness service, (AIHW, 2011). This is equivalent to one in 60 Australian children and one in every 38 children aged four years or younger.

Many of these children were living in single parent families, with almost 25% of all homelessness service support periods provided to single parent households (AIHW, 2011).

Most of these parents were women escaping family violence.

Severe financial stress, family crises and eviction are also major individual-level causes of homelessness for children and their families.

Indigenous Australians are over-represented in specialist homelessness services. Indigenous Australians accounted for 18% of clients in 2009-10 even though they represented 2% of the general population aged 10 years and over (AIHW, 2011).

The situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children was even worse, being “over-represented relative to their population size…26% of accompanying children were Indigenous compared with around 5% of the Australian population aged 17 years and under.” (AIHW, 2011; 9).

If you would like to view or download the "Seen & Heard: Putting Children on the Homelessness agenda " snapshot report please click here:

Does Camping Count?

In Victoria, children constitute a third of people attending homelessness services. This research aimed to gain insight into the homelessness experience of children accommodated in transitional support services in an urban setting. It is the first major investigation of children’s perspectives on the experience of homelessness in Victoria.

Click here to view or download a copy of the "Does Camping Count? Report into Children's Experiences of Homelessness":

Refuge for Babies Manual

This booklet is written specifically for workers in ‘shelter, refuge and crisis accommodation’ settings. Its focus is on the mental health of infants who present to these settings, generally in the company of their mothers and often after their caregiving world has been affected by significant levels of stress, trauma and upheaval.

In particular, it is targeted at infants who have been exposed to significant family violence. We hope, however, that the usefulness of what it has to offer will extend to any infant who, with their mother and in many cases siblings, has had to endure the distress and uncertainty of homelessness.

It is the result of a collaborative venture between McAuley Community Services for Women and the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne’s Integrated Mental Health Program — Addressing Family Violence Programs (which includes the work of the Peek-a-Boo Club™, an infant/mother family violence group work program)

To view or downoad the booklet please click here:

Useful Phone Numbers

Maternal & Child Health Line - 13 22 29

Queen Elizabeth Centre - 03 9549 2777

Tweddle Child and Family Health Services - 03 9689 1577

Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency: 03 8388 1855

After Hours Child Protection Emergency Services: 13 12 78

Centres Against Sexual Assault Crisis Line: 03 9344 2210

Women´s Information Referral Exchange (WIRE): 1300 134 130