Housing and support organisation Launch Housing has expressed concern that many people who experience homelessness will not be able to take part in the upcoming marriage equality postal vote.

Launch Housing said that the short timeline has meant that the usual measures that are put in place to help people who are experiencing homelessness to enrol to vote did not take place.

CEO Tony Keenan said that research shows that many people who experience homelessness do not vote in elections.

“Our research has consistently shown that our clients do not vote and the predominant reason for not voting is that people are not enrolled,” he said.

A poll conducted by Launch Housing of its clients following both the 2007 and 2010 federal elections found that 43 per cent and 56 per cent of clients, respectively, did not vote.

The main barrier was enrolment, with 60 per cent of clients not enrolled for the federal elections in 2007, and 53 per cent not enrolled in 2010.

Launch Housing praised the Australian Bureau of Statistics for providing special measures to allow people without a fixed address to vote in the upcoming postal survey, but said that the failure to take measures to ensure enrolment means that many will still miss out.

Keenan said this was of particular concern given evidence that LGBTI people are over represented in the homeless population.

“Lesbian and gay people are more likely to have been homeless than heterosexual people,” he said.

“This overrepresentation in a population that already has a low voting rate means special efforts must be made to ensure that the survey is representative of this group of Australians.

“The Australian Bureau of Statistics 2014 General Social Survey reported that 13.4 per cent of heterosexuals had ever been homeless compared with 20.8 per cent of bisexual people and 33.7 per cent of lesbian/gay people.

“People without a permanent home have the same right to be represented in this survey, just as every other Australian citizen.

“We urge the Australian Electoral Commission to clarify how the survey will be representative of the full population and ensure the views of people experiencing homelessness are reflected.”

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