Lest we for­get home­less

The Advocate (Perth) - - NEWS -

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.

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