Victoria Legal Aid


Information for homeless people about getting legal assistance, finding emergency and ongoing housing, and Centrelink crisis payments.

If you don’t have anywhere to live there are organisations that can help you find accommodation. You can apply for emergency accommodation and public housing.

There are other services that can help you with legal matters, financial hardship and family violence.


Emergency accommodation and homelessness assistance

If you need emergency accommodation, or are at risk of homelessness and need help, you can call Opening Doors on 1800 825 955 to speak with a housing and support worker. The service is available 24 hours a day.

If you are experiencing family violence, call Safe StepsExternal Link on 1800 015 188 at any time. Safe Steps are Victoria’s 24/7 family violence support service.

You can also contact your nearest crisis support centreExternal Link for assistance.

If you have a problem with a government-funded homelessness support and accommodation service such as crisis accommodation, the Homelessness Advocacy ServiceExternal Link can help you. They can give you information about your rights and help you to make a complaint about any of these services in Victoria.

Public and social housing

Public and social housing is rental accommodation for people whose circumstances mean they can’t afford to pay ‘market rates’ of rent. If you’re homeless you can apply to the Department of Health and Human ServicesExternal Link for ‘early housing’, which means that you won’t have to wait as long as other people.

Squatting in a vacant property

Living in a vacant house or building without the owner's permission and without paying any form of rent is called ‘squatting’. Squatting is not against the law, but the police can charge you for being in a building or on land without the owner’s permission (trespassing).

The property owner can evict you and may take civil action against you for compensation. The owner may call the police to have you evicted immediately. In some cases, you may be able to stay on for 24 or 48 hours, to give you time to find somewhere else to stay.

If the property owner wants to evict you and you refuse to go, they can apply to the Supreme Court to get an order forcing you to leave.

Most property owners will evict squatters immediately. However, some squatters are able to reach an agreement with the owner to stay on as a tenant by explaining their financial situation and offering to pay what rent they can afford and/or ensuring that the property is looked after.

If you have occupied a property as a squatter for 15 years you are entitled to have your name entered on the land title, unless the land is owned by the government. This means that legally you own the land. You need to be able to prove your period of possession.

Other resources

WIRE has resources about what your housing options are, and how to apply for public housing. Go to the WIRE resources pageExternal Link for more information.

Financial hardship

We have information about debt and financial issues, including where to go to get help.

If you've had to leave your home because of severe hardship, you may qualify for Crisis Payment from CentrelinkExternal Link .

Crisis Payment is a one-off payment, equal to one week's payment of the normal Centrelink pension or benefit payment you are entitled to. It is limited to four payments for extreme circumstances in any 12 months.

Family violence

If you are experiencing family violence you can apply for an intervention order to protect you from a family member. There are many services where you can get other support for violence, abuse and personal safety.


Technically, begging is against the law and the police have to enforce that law. You can be charged, fined or even imprisoned.

If the police see you begging and you are not causing any trouble they will probably just ask you to stop. However, if someone complains to the police or the police think you’re acting in a threatening or aggressive manner, they may charge you.

Other support

Find out how you can get other support for home and property.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at

Reviewed 07 April 2022

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