Veteran homelessness – backgrounder

DVA is concerned about any instance of homelessness among former serving members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

21 December 2019

DVA strives to ensure any former serving members of the ADF who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, have access to the services and support they need.

The Australian Government provides more than $6 billion per year for housing and homelessness support services for all Australians, including veterans. States and territories are primarily responsible for delivering housing and homelessness services.

Early assistance is vital to prevent housing instability and homelessness. In recent years, the Government has significantly improved transition support and access to mental health care for veterans, including initiatives such as the Veteran Payment for those in need of urgent financial assistance while their claims for compensation are in train.

DVA provides information to the veteran community and to homelessness service providers in Australia, about the services and support DVA can provide to entitled veterans.

Any former member of the ADF who is homeless, or is at risk of becoming homeless, can ask for help. They can contact their local homelessness service or ex-service organisation, call DVA on 1800 555 254 or Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling on 1800 011 046.

DVA has a list of homelessness services on the Homelessness page of its website.

DVA has been working for some years to improve the evidence base about veteran homelessness. It is an emerging area of research. There is no one source of data and so we need to use a range of methods to build the evidence.

The department commissioned the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) to include data on the number of current and former members of the ADF seeking support from Specialist Homelessness Service (SHS) providers in its Specialist Homelessness Services Annual Report. This data was included for the first time in the report for 2017–18 released on 14 December 2018.  

DVA also commissioned the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) to undertaken research to develop a more accurate understanding of the number of veterans accessing homeless services, the factors that cause homelessness and the experiences of homeless veterans. This report is nearing completion.

DVA’s efforts to improve data collection on veteran homelessness continues. DVA has commissioned AIHW to undertake in-depth analysis of those veterans who use homelessness services. We expect that report to be released by AIHW around the end of this year. DVA will also continue to advocate for the inclusion of a veteran identifier in the national Census. This will greatly improve our knowledge of all veterans’ health and wellbeing over their lifetime.

Crisis accommodation

  • The Crisis Accommodation Program (CAP) aims to provide short-term ‘time-out’ accommodation for up to five days to current and former serving ADF members and their partners. This allows time for them to interrupt a potentially dangerous domestic situation, to seek Open Arms assistance to help address issues that contributed to the crisis, and to reintegrate into the family and/or community.
  • A current or former member of the ADF or their partner in a crisis situation and needing help who phones Open Arms in business hours or Open Arms After Hours Support will be assessed for eligibility and suitability.
  • A current or former serving ADF member or family member assessed as eligible for accommodation will be booked into accommodation as near as possible to their current location.
  • The short-term accommodation is meant to give the client time to arrange his/her own alternative accommodation and seek support from Open Arms.
  • Open Arms is currently rolling out Community and Peer Engagement teams nationally which will assist in better linkage to the community-based accommodation options however required.


Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling, provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit