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Inside a stretched system: Homelessness report launched

A groundbreaking study highlights the pressures on Melbourne's homelessness service system.

“We worked together and agreed to share data, because we were desperate to understand the changes and challenges,” VincentCare’s Paul Turton told a roomful of frontline service providers and peak body representatives during his introduction at Queen Victoria Women’s Centre earlier this week.

The occasion was the launch of a one-of-a-kind longitudinal joint report examining the pressures at the front end of the homelessness service system.

“Inside the Front Door” is a seven-year study conducted by RMIT University, commissioned by Unison Housing Research Lab, and led by VincentCare in collaboration with The Salvation Army, Launch Housing, WAYYS and Haven. It’s based on patterns of use at ‘front door’ or homelessness service system entry points at six organisations covering most of Metropolitan Melbourne.

The ‘changes’ Paul was referring to are an increase in presentations at the front end of the homelessness service system from people who are employed: which rose from 1 in 20 in 2014, to nearly 1 in 10 in 2020. There is also a near doubling of those reporting family and domestic violence at their first presentation: increasing from 7.5% to 15.8%. 

As ‘Simon’, a team leader at VincentCare’s northern access point told the audience: “There is a complexity in the cases we are seeing daily, and we simply don’t have the resources to support this complexity…it’s heartbreaking having to consistently say no clients.”

“Inside the Front Door” is the first study to analyse the long-term changing patterns of homelessness service use across Melbourne’s homelessness support agencies.

Speakers at Tuesday’s launch included The Salvation Army’s Peter McGrath, Homelessness Australia’s Kate Colvin, Council to Homeless Persons Deb deNatale and chief researchers Guy Johnson (RMIT) and Godwin Karaarpuo (University of Melbourne).

You can read the full report HERE.

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