Lest we forget homeless
DOZENS of veterans will spend Anzac Day homeless on the streets of Perth.
The State of Homelessness in Australia’s Cities report, released on April 12, revealed shocking new figures about homelessness in Australian cities.
The report brings together evidence from seven years of Registry Week data collections from 8618 interviews held by homelessness services and volunteers throughout the country.
Collections in WA were mainly in Perth and Fremantle, with 1662 respondents. Research revealed of those surveyed, 72 veterans were sleeping rough in WA’s capital.
For the study, a veteran is defined as an individual who is a current or former member of the Australian Defence Force, regardless of whether they were involved in active service or not.
More than 450 across the country identified as veterans, of which 61.1 per cent reported they were sleeping rough and 43 per cent reported they had suffered a serious brain injury or head trauma, a figure “considerably higher” than those who were not veterans.
The report also revealed a “very high” proportion (31 per cent) of Perth’s homeless were Indigenous.
Paul Flatau from Centre for Social Impact at UWA said Indigenous homeless people had it worse on the streets.
“Their experiences are a little different and the interaction around past incarceration and continuing with legal issues is very high,” he said.
Ruah Community Services chief executive Debra Zanella said she was pleasantly surprised to see a dip in emergency department (ED) presentations for those who had found housing.
Figures obtained from Royal Perth Hospital showed a 31 per cent decrease from 110 to 76.
“Often we thought through our work with people that their health and mental health needs rise and assume they’d increase in ED presentations because they were coming to terms with it but to see it decrease, I thought ‘wow’,” Ms Zanella said.
“So the support we can offer through homeless healthcare and nursing and outreach is often enough to shift the dial.”
The report was released in the same week the WA Alliance to End Homelessness released its 10-year plan to end homelessness.