Adequate and safe housing are the foundation for individual and community well-being. Australian psychologists have become increasingly concerned about the estimated 105,000 people who on any given night are homeless, and the increasing number of people (particularly families) who do not have stable accommodation. Homelessness is a key determinant of health, and is associated with many poor health outcomes, including the alarming statistics that people who are homeless are 34 times more likely to suicide, 25 times more likely to die, and 150 times more likely to die a violent death, than the general population (Hodgetts, 2009).
The APS has been active in addressing homelessness from a psychological perspective, identifying specific vulnerable groups with complex needs who are particularly affected by homelessness. Since the Australian Government prioritised homelessness in 2008, we have:
While the role of the psychologist in the homelessness field is not as visible as some other professions, psychology does have much to offer, both around the provision of psychological services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and also in program design and evaluation, research, and influencing attitudes towards homelessness in general. Our consultations have identified a need for researchers and practitioners to form cross-disciplinary partnerships, to be informed by and build on past research, and to identify and contribute to those areas that are yet to be investigated.
The APS commitment to addressing homelessness includes educating our own members on the ways in which mental health, family violence, poverty and life transition crises can amplify the risk of homelessness and exacerbate its effects.