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The NSW Government is committed to reducing homelessness and is taking a holistic approach to tackling homelessness and the factors that contribute to it. Those factors are complex and require a range of solutions to meet the needs of vulnerable people.

On Census night in 2021, more than 35,000 people in NSW were counted as homeless.

Between 2016 and 2021 (ABS Census, 2021)** there was a:

  • 7% decrease in the overall number of homeless people in NSW
  • 63% decrease in the number of people sleeping rough on the streets
  • 10% increase in the number of Aboriginal people who were homeless.

Our homelessness services and programs aim to break cycles of homelessness by balancing prevention and early intervention with crisis responses.

** The census was held on 10 August 2021 when NSW was under COVID-19 related restrictions. The homelessness estimates should be interpreted considering pandemic responses that were in place.

Specialist Homelessness Services Program

Specialist homelessness services, funded by DCJ and delivered by non-government organisations across NSW, form a vital part of the service system supporting people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The specialist homelessness services system focuses effort on people in the community known to be most at risk of homelessness. This includes women experiencing domestic and family violence, rough sleepers, young people leaving care, people with mental health issues and people living in unsafe conditions.

Specialist homelessness services work in partnership with housing providers and other service providers, such as those delivering drug and alcohol, domestic violence and mental health programs. These collaborations between services help people at risk of becoming homeless to stay housed and those already homeless to find and keep a home.

Women’s services and refuges across NSW

Over half of the specialist homelessness services across the state include a specialist response for women, including women with children, women with complex needs, and women who are escaping domestic and family violence.

The specialist homelessness services system also includes a network of women’s refuges across NSW that support women, with or without children, including those who are escaping domestic and family violence.

Domestic Violence Response Enhancement

As part of the NSW Government’s initiatives to combat domestic violence, we have provided additional funding through the Domestic Violence Response Enhancement (DVRE) to strengthen and enhance homelessness service responses,  for women and children experiencing or at risk of homelessness because of domestic and family violence.

Through the DVRE, specialist homelessness services that are funded to deliver a domestic violence response have greater capacity to strengthen their after-hours responses to women in crisis through tailored local service models, including safety planning, case management, and assessment and increased crisis and temporary accommodation options and support.

This ensures all women who present to a service receive a risk and safety assessment to identify immediate needs, and referral to the most appropriate accommodation and/or support.

Service Support Fund

The Service Support Fund (SSF) was established to deliver new programs that complement specialist homelessness services and the wider approach to reducing homelessness.

Homeless Youth Assistance Program

Children and young people who are homeless are more likely than their peers to have experienced abuse, neglect, family violence at home, and/or mental illness. They may have been in contact with the justice system, to misuse drugs and alcohol, or to be disengaged from education.

Through the Homeless Youth Assistance Program (HYAP) we fund non-government organisations to provide targeted and holistic responses to help unaccompanied children and young people aged 12 to 15 years who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Under the HYAP, 19 service packages have been established across NSW. These include 17 services established through the recent HYAP select tender and two early release providers in Sydney.

These services provide integrated support and accommodation with the aim of reunifying children and young people with their families and broader support networks, where appropriate, or enabling them to transition to appropriate longer-term supported accommodation.

Key objectives of the HYAP include supporting children and young people to:

  • rebuild family, kin and cultural connections and work towards family reconciliation, where appropriate
  • successfully transition to independence
  • engage with education, training and/or employment
  • access mainstream health, mental health and wellbeing services
  • engage with the broader community to support their successful transition to independence.

Service providers funded through the HYAP have demonstrated experience and expertise in delivering positive outcomes for unaccompanied children and young people.

An implementation, outcome and economic evaluation of HYAP was undertaken for the period 2017 – 2020.

HYAP is currently being reconfigured to better meet the needs of unacompanied children, 12-15 years, experiencing and at risk of homelessness.

Get in touch

If you or someone you know is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless please contact Link2Home on 1800 152 152 or The Child Protection Helpline on 132 111. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Find a specialist homelessness service.

For enquiries about homelessness services and programs, please contact the Homelessness Team at

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Last updated: 06 Feb 2024