Media Release by The Hon Mark Butler MP

Study provides clearer picture of homelessness

A ground-breaking study demonstrates the Gillard Government’s homelessness policies are working, showing a drop in homelessness among survey participants in an internationally recognised study conducted in Australia.

Minister for Housing and Homelessness Mark Butler today released the “Wave 2” results from Journeys Home: Longitudinal Study of Factors Affecting Housing Stability, a two year study that, for the first time, follows the lives of more than 1600 Australians who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“The vicious cycle in and out of homelessness is a strong theme of this study but we’re pleased to see an overall drop in homelessness of 3.7 per cent for this group,” Mr Butler said.

Mr Butler said the study identifies employment and physical health as two key influential factors which determine whether a person can exit a cycle of homelessness.

“As would be expected, those who were unable to work, or not of working age were more likely to be homeless or at risk than those who were employed,” Mr Butler said.

“Participants who had some connection to the labour market, even if unemployed for some time, had far better outcomes than those with no connection to it at all.”

“People who were homeless in both waves of the study also demonstrated poorer physical health, with almost 60 per cent of homeless people having a long-term health condition that restricts their everyday activities.”

“Respondents were also more likely to engage in substance misuse – with those using illicit drugs more likely to be homeless.”

Another key finding of the report shows that important links to family and friends diminishes when people become homeless – so strategies that better link people with their community and provide support to keep families connected are key.

Mr Butler said the study would give the Government a better understanding of the causes of homelessness and its effects.

“The ongoing study is designed to help steer the Government’s homelessness policies and there are some valuable lessons to be learned from this study.”

“This is the first large-scale longitudinal study of its type in Australia. By following the same group of people over time, it will help us understand what differentiates people who are able to move out of homelessness from those who are not.”

“And it will help us target our funding and resources in the future, so that government services are better coordinated and people are less likely to fall through the cracks.”

“This Government has made tackling homelessness a national priority, and we remain steadfast in our goal to halve the rate of homelessness by 2020,” Mr Butler said.

Journeys Home is a study in four waves that aims to determine the factors that contribute to homelessness. Managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, the study is due to finish in mid-2013.

Journeys Home: Findings from Waves 1 and 2 is available at: