New census data shows that nearly 60,000 Australians cite a caravan. Mother of six, Ajay*, is one of them.
Most important points:
58,155 people said they lived in a caravan during the census night in 2021
According to Real Estate Institute Victoria, vacancy in regional Victoria was 1.7 percent in May
Ajay says she saw 19 families living at the caravan park
Last year, the 40-year-old had to leave her rental home in Golden Plains Shire, western Victoria, when the owners decided to sell the property.
Despite applying for numerous rental properties, Ajay was unable to find a new home.
“There were hundreds of families applying for the same house,” she said.
“It was very difficult.”
With no other choice, Ajay made the decision to live in her father’s caravan.
The caravan was initially on a caravan park in Ballarat, which Ajay said was packed with other families in a similar situation to hers.
Nine months later, the 40-year-old still lives in the same caravan, but it is now parked in her father’s backyard.
Four of her children are in foster care, but two of her children – a three-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter – live in the same compact home.
She said that every day brings challenges.
“You can’t have the basics,” Ajay said.
“You struggle from day to day to live on the doorstep of each other. Fighting and quarrels increase.”
New hope on the horizon
Homelessness service Uniting Ballarat has enabled Ajay to secure a property that she will move into next month.
From the new base, Ajay said she will return to work as a taxi driver.
While the mother of six is excited about the next chapter, memories of a young couple from the caravan park remain in her mind.
“They just had the baby and are still homeless,” she said.
Plea for landlords
Data released by CoreLogic on Friday shows that national rents are rising faster than home prices, rising nine percent in June.
While Ajay acknowledges that property owners are in a “really difficult” situation, she called on landlords to show more compassion.
“I know it’s very hard with rising interest rates, but everyone needs a home. Nobody should live in a caravan.”
Caravans park long-term homes
According to Consumer Affairs Victoria, residents of caravan parks have rights under the Housing Rental Act.
“A person is considered a caravan park occupier if they have an agreement with the caravan park owner or have lived in the park continuously for at least 60 days and are not there for non-residential purposes (e.g. a holiday),” he said. a spokesperson to ABC News.
The spokesman said the resident and owner of the caravan park can enter into a written agreement specifying “terms and conditions”.
*The interviewee requested to remain anonymous.