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mental health

Homelessness policy and systems for people with disabilities

This scoping project will investigate the extent to which the homelessness system and policies in Australia respond to the specific housing needs of people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism, and the intersectoral linkage between the homelessness and disability sectors.  

Homelessness Australia report that approximately one quarter of clients of homeless services are people with disabilities, while AIHW state that 8.1 per cent of people who access specialist homelessness services are said to have a disability, with 34 per cent reporting disability at severe or profound level. Previous research highlights that people with disabilities in Australia are at greater risk of homelessness than the general population, with the highest risk groups people with psychological, intellectual and mental health disability as well as those with difficulties in schooling and employment. 

The project will collate secondary data sources and synthesise statistics on disability and homelessness to overview the prevalence and incidence of homelessness among the intellectual disability and/or autism population in Australia. A systematic literature review on the system experience of homelessness people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism will also be undertaken. 

Key current housing and homelessness policies will be critically examined to ascertain the extent to which people with disabilities are included, using a human rights framework. Interviews with stakeholders in the homeless and disability sectors will be conducted to gain insight into intersectoral links and the extent to which staff feel resourced and well-informed to support this group. The interviews will also provide an opportunity to explore the role of the Special Disability Accommodation scheme in supporting people with disabilities out of homelessness or risk of homelessness.

Lead Researcher: Dr Mary-Ann O’Donovan, University of Sydney

Project Number: 73276