Our homelessness research

A voter casts their vote at Sacred Heart Mission homelessness service in Melbourne.In April-June 2023, we conducted a research project to assess and suggest strategies to increase electoral engagement for people without a home. We held focus groups and interviews with 17 people who have lived experience of homelessness and staff from Victorian homelessness services.

Homelessness impacts over 30,660 Victorians every year (ABS 2021) and includes people living on the streets or out of cars, along with temporary accommodation provided by services or with friends and family.

People without a home have different motivations for enrolling and voting and there are better times and places for us to engage. We found that enrolment and voting are not likely to be a priority for people sleeping rough, but they were more likely to be a priority for those in more stable housing.

People we spoke to viewed mobile enrolment and voting positively. However, there was little recall of election communication activities. Many people transitioning from sleeping rough or in transient housing have mobile phones, suggesting more targeted electoral communications can be considered when people are facing less immediate survival needs.

However, we will discontinue the 1800 free call service, which was not being used, so this funding can be used towards strategies that can better support people experiencing homelessness.

The research recommends:

  1. Supporting and working with the services, networks and people with lived experience already in the sector.
  2. Expanding and continuously improving mobile enrolment and voting.
  3. Testing and targeting communication and education activities.
  4. Discontinuing the 1800 free call VEC helpline.

We will use this research in our planning for the 2024 Local Government elections.

For more information about the research, please email our Education and Inclusion team.