Family of eight forced to live in tent in suburban park: 'We've never done this'

The average wait time for social housing in Queensland has blown out to 28 months, with nearly one third of applicants having children.

Tents for the homeless seen along a walkway in Brisbane.
Tent 'cities' and homeless camps have continued to pop up around Brisbane. Source: ABC

A Queensland family of eight has spoken about the pain and difficulty of being forced out of the rental market and having to live in a tent in a public park. The Fletcher family claim they have been waiting six months for public housing after their last rental lease ended, but claim the government can't support them because they have "too many children".

Since September they've been forced to join the growing numbers of rough sleepers in the state, moving from campsite to campsite with their six children aged between one and 10.

For the moment, they moved to a suburban park north of Brisbane, where so-called tent cities are becoming an increasingly common site.

"We've always had a house, we've never done this," father Cameron Fletcher told Nine News. "Everyone here is going through the same thing. But it's the only way to get help."

The father of the family speaking to media. The others pictured outside their tent.
The family have joined others in a park north of Brisbane. Source: Nine News

For him and his wife Tameka, the smallest things such as finding breakfast, washing their clothes and getting the kids ready for school have now become immensely more challenging. The family say they are using solar camping showers purchased from Kmart to wash themselves.

"This one is meant to go to school next year," Fletcher said gesturing to his daughter. "But because we don't have a permanent address, we can't enrol her in daycare..."

According to Nine News, the family would be happy to take a three bedroom home but has been told by state housing officials say they can only be offered a five bedroom house to avoid overcrowding. But currently there a none available. However Yahoo understands the family might not meet the criteria to be eligible for public housing.

In a statement issued to Yahoo News, a spokesperson for Department of Housing said they had been working with the family since September, "including providing accommodation which they chose to leave".

"As we’ve been assisting them to find longer-term options, they have declined further offers of accommodation," the spokesperson said.

"With regards to social housing, there are eligibility factors that need to be met, including income thresholds. However, the department continues to work with the family to find a private rental and give any other support they might need."

More than half of Queenslanders who have applied for social housing are homeless and are waiting more than two years, amid a lack of supply and skyrocketing demand.

Latest data from the state's social housing register shows there were 24,991 applications to December, with half of those people already homeless and average wait times blowing out to 28 months.

Nearly one-third of those applicants had children.

"We're continuing to see an increasing number of families with young children who have nowhere to go," Queensland Council of Social Services CEO Amy McVeigh told the media last month.

"It's incredibly concerning."

Housing Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the figures were alarming but there had been a decrease in the number of applications year on year which showed the government's social housing programs were helping.

"That's really critical as we judge the number of applications because that's the amount of homes that we need, but of course, we know that there's still more to do," she said.

Queensland housing minister Meaghan Scanlon pictured
Queensland housing minister Meaghan Scanlon says the state government is committed to fixing the issue. Source: AAP

The state government is trying to tackle the growing housing issue with the Homes for Queenslanders plan: a $3.1 billion funding boost to deliver one million homes, including 53,500 social properties, by 2046.

The plan includes initiatives such as expanding the Immediate Relief for Families program to provide emergency accommodation to all individuals and families, banning rent bidding, limiting rent increases to annually instead of tenancy based and social service funding.

Premier Steven Miles and his cabinet have promised a home for every homeless Queenslander.

with AAP

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.