Veteran homelessness – backgrounder

The Government is concerned about any instance of homelessness among former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), and has invested significantly in addressing the risk factors associated with homelessness.

21 December 2019

Any veteran who finds themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness is encouraged to contact the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) on 1800 555 254 or Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling on 1800 011 046 who will work with them to access support.

While states and territories have primary responsibility for delivering housing and homelessness services, the Australian Government provides more than $6 billion per year for housing and homelessness services for all Australians, including veterans.

DVA has significantly improved access to mental health care and improved transition support. DVA has supported veteran employment through rehabilitation and training support, and introduced free mental health care for life, which is needs based, uncapped and available to any veteran who has served a single day in the ADF.

DVA also issues a Veteran White Card to all transitioning ADF members, and supports veterans in financial difficulties while their claims for compensation are being processed with the Veteran Payment. These initiatives assist in addressing the risk factors associated with homelessness.

DVA is committed to enhancing partnerships with state and territory governments, specialist homelessness service providers and the Department of Defence to further improve housing outcomes for veterans and their families, as set out in the Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and National Action Plan 2020-2023.

DVA has information on homelessness support and a list of community-based support services on its website.

The government is committed to better understanding homelessness among former members of the ADF. While there is no one source of data, DVA has sought to better understand the risk factors and the experience of homelessness in the veteran community. This understanding is informed by three recent reports. Information on these reports can be found on our Homelessness support page

For the first time in the history of the Australian Census, in 2021 a question about ADF service will be included in the Census which will provide better information about where our veterans are located. This will allow us to enable better delivery of services and support for veterans, including homelessness services.

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