AHURI News

Reporting the realities of homelessness

National Homelessness Conference to examine the media's portrayal of homelessness issues

17 July 2018

With the second season of the SBS documentary series Filthy, Rich and Homeless set to air, The National Homelessness Conference 2018 will host an engaging session examining the media's portrayal of homelessness issues.

The media often focus on sensationalist images of rough sleepers when discussing homelessness—images which obscure the realities of homelessness as predominantly overcrowded and insecure tenancies. In addition, the media’s demand for ‘case studies’ of real humans who are experiencing suffering can expose vulnerable people to intense media attention, compromising their privacy and mental health, stigmatising family members such as children and affect future job opportunities.

And yet without media interest, the serious issues of homelessness can be forgotten or ignored by those unaffected by it. Understanding the needs of both the media and homelessness organisations and those experiencing homelessness is key.

... without media interest, the serious issues of homelessness can be forgotten or ignored by those unaffected by it.

Patricia Karvelas, from ABC Radio National, will facilitate as Dr Catherine Robinson, Social Action Research Centre (and adviser to Filthy, Rich and Homeless), Jacob Hickey, Series Director of Filthy Rich and Homeless, Tom Elliot from 3AW's Drive and Christine Thirkell from the Peer Education and Support Program representing those with lived experience of homelessness will consider how homelessness is represented by the media. Hearing from those with firsthand experience of creating media stories and those impacted by such stories will be a conference highlight.

Key questions for the panel will be how can the media be encouraged take a more responsible role in reporting on homelessness and how can the sector best work with the media to bring attention to the real issues?

The National Homelessness Conference 2018—Ending homelessness together—is convened by AHURI in partnership with Homelessness Australia, and will take place in Melbourne on Mon 6 and Tue 7 August 2018 as part of Homelessness Week 2018.