Media Release by The Hon Melissa Parke MP

Addressing Indigenous homelessness in Mount Isa

A transitional accommodation and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Mount Isa has had considerable success over the past eight years helping Indigenous people in crisis, University of Queensland research shows.

Parliamentary Secretary for Homelessness and Social Housing Melissa Parke said the study, No Wrong Door? Managing Indigenous Homeless clients in Mt Isa, released today, focuses on how the Jimaylya Topsy Harry Centre (JTHC) integrates frontline treatment of Indigenous alcoholism with responses to homelessness.

“The centre is unique in its capacity to incorporate a restricted and managed drinking environment along with a range of tailored support services, with a particular focus on education, employment and housing,” Ms Parke said.

“This Indigenous-centred approach seeks to reduce alcohol consumption among its clients and ensure there is No Wrong Door for them.”

“The Centre has operated for eight years and offers a safe environment for people who are homeless or in crisis situations to go and seek assistance under intense case management, to obtain help from support agencies, and to find temporary accommodation.

“The researchers have found that the Centre has had many successes over the past eight years helping Indigenous people in crisis in Mt Isa. They conclude it is the unusual and possibly unique combination of programs and cultural emphasis that make the JTHC stand out.”

Ms Parke said the research suggests three key areas to focus on in terms of best practice for service delivery addressing Indigenous homelessness in remote Australia: harm minimisation, accommodation leading to housing, and maintaining culture.

Further evaluation, particularly longitudinal research, is required to establish whether the JTHC has a “winning formula” that can be adapted and transferred to other regional centres in Australia that have high levels of Indigenous homelessness.

Ms Parke said a second report from the University of Queensland released today, The challenge of monitoring growth in regional Indigenous homelessness, has recommended linking different survey sets to better measure Indigenous homeless populations in regional Australia.

“Currently there are limitations to using existing data sets in terms of measuring Indigenous homelessness,” Ms Parke said.

“The researchers have recommended linking data sets such as the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey or the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children with data from other sources, such as the Census.

“It has also recommended examining anecdotal evidence relating to homelessness presented in the media, particularly regional newspapers.”

These two reports form part of a multi-stage project, Developing effective service responses to public place dwelling for Indigenous people, which analyses different types of service responses in several urban and regional communities and focuses on ways to help Indigenous people who are homeless.

Further case studies being undertaken as part of this project will investigate initiatives in the Gascoyne region in Western Australia and Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.

To view the No Wrong Door? Managing Indigenous Homeless clients in Mt Isa report and the The challenge of monitoring growth in regional Indigenous homelessness report, go to