Homelessness and services and system integration


The prevalence of substance use and other mental disorder among homeless persons typically exceed general population estimates yet access to appropriate services is limited. This project will focus on the integration of mental health and drug and alcohol services for homeless people. It will provide an account of the extent to which homelessness services in Australia link in with mental health and drug and alcohol services. Additionally, the study will also document the mechanisms and effectiveness of such linkages.

This project has been transferred to the University of Western Australia.
All other reports and current information can be found here: AHURI research project 82013.

Project Number: 80568
Research Theme(s): Homelessness and housing, Health, ageing and disability
Project Leader: Flatau, Paul
Funding Year: 2009
Research Centre: Western Australia

Published research reports

Download now Positioning Paper: No. 132: The integration of homelessness, mental health and drug and alcohol services in Australia
350 KB PDF Document


Recent studies have shown integrated treatment of substance use and other mental disorders is more effective than treatment directed at a single problem. Poor coordination between substance use and mental health services has resulted in clients with co-occurring substance use and other mental disorders ‘falling through the gaps’. This is an important priority area for the Australian Government which has established the National Comorbidity Initiative aimed at improving the capacity for integrated treatment of comorbid substance use and other mental disorders.

Specifically, this project aims to:

  1. Develop a typology of integrated service delivery models. This will be addressed by reviewing the literature and undertaking semi-structured interviews with SAAP agencies and national and international key experts.
  2. Document the alcohol and drug and mental health service needs of homeless persons, and map these needs to the current pattern of systems and services integration in Australia. The first part of this research question will be addressed through secondary data analysis of the SAAP High and Complex Needs Census. The second part of the question will be addressed through a short survey of SAAP agencies and a targeted survey of mainstream alcohol and drug and mental health services. Both surveys will be at the agency level and will focus on systems and services integration issues.
  3. Measure the effectiveness of different models of integrated service delivery. This will be addressed through the use of case studies. These will be selected to provide examples across the continuum of integrated service delivery and different sub-populations of homeless persons (single adult women and men and Indigenous Australians). The effectiveness of system- and service-level integration will be measured in terms of the risks and benefits to clients, service providers and external stakeholders.

This project involves a collaboration between Murdoch University and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW and draws together expertise in homelessness and substance use and other mental disorders.