Homelessness in Australia

A person being without a home Is a human rights Issue that impacts people more deeply than Just in lack of permanent housing. There are three classifications of homelessness; primary, secondary and tertiary. All three types have significant effects on an individual’s everyday life that include: minimal or no education and employment; mental health issues: and destructive relationships which can cause substance abuse. The government need to put to action practical strategies that prevent homelessness and create more services for those currently without homes.

Homelessness is a human rights issue effecting Australians’ education and mployment. Recent statistics show that about 105,000 people are without homes every night Of these individuals one in two are classified as tertiary, staying with family or friends: about one in tour are secondary, finding a bed in a shelter: and the remaining one In seven are primary. sleeping on the streets (Dragon, N 201 1, p. 26). Robinson describes that homelessness explained only as social exclusion does not get the attention of government funding that it deserves (2002, p. ).

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She argues that traditional definitions of homelessness as merely a lack of shelter have nintentionally established homelessness as a condition of deprivation that can be resolved easily (Robinson, C 2002, p. 32). People experiencing homelessness are mlsslng out on lack ot housing but most Importantly they are not experiencing their fundamental human rights. They do not have the right to adequate housing In order to live at the minimum standard in their local community (Hedley, J 2009, p. ). The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission state that people without secure housing are subject to bad health, minimal safety, no privacy and poor education among many other factors (2008, pp. 8-9).

Research further supports that homelessness is a deeper issue than lack ot accommodation. Studies reveal that homeless people respond to facilities provldlng ‘more than a bed, and Include services connecting clients to education, employment and counselling’ (Dragon, N 201 1, p. 8). Absence of stable housing and denial of basic human rights effects people’s everyday enjoyment and freedom as they are excluded from access to education, employment and social relations. Relationships play an important role In the lives ot people experiencing none or Inadequate accommodation. Robinson describes that un-homed people have a outine of developing connections with people and places so they can physically and emotionally survive life without shelter (2008, p. 28).

Teenagers specifically enjoy the free will and independence they encounter whilst living on the street so do not react well to authority figures (Wilks, N et al. 008, p. 68). However, friends and service workers who give the homeless ‘a feeling of acceptance and support’ are looked upon favourably by the homeless as they typically have not experienced this care In the pest (Wllks, N et al. 2008, p. 67). Lack of shelter becomes d lesser Issue ds elationships become more Important for enduring hardship.

Robinson describes a process amongst homeless youth of ‘recognising spaces of rejection, violence, illness She states that in spaces, such as shelters and on the streets, teenagers meet people and form associations with others to feel a sense of being at home (Robinson, C 2002, p. 6). Individuals may progress between living on the street, in shelters or with friends but many are impacted by mental health and substance abuse issues. An individual’s mental health is significantly impacted by lack of safe and secure housing and substance abuse.

In the year 2011 a study found that one in two homeless people in Brisbane and Melbourne had a mental illness (Dragon, N 2011, p. 26). Healey states that substance abuse, limited employment and no safe accommodation are related to mental illness (2006, p. 10). Youth homelessness resulting in substance abuse is on the rise in Australia and requires more attention from the government and social services. Since 1989, the number of homeless young people has doubled to 22,000 and emergency shelters are not able to accommodate all individuals as services are full (Healey,J 2009, p. 37).

Johnson and Chamberlain tate that sixty percent of teenagers become addicted to drugs and alcohol whilst being without accommodation (2008, p. 352). There is a risk of young people being coerced into a sub-culture of homelessness which encourages substance abuse. Researchers agree stating that living on city streets is ‘as much about being part of a culture or society with different norms and rules as it is about being without housing’ (Turnbull,J et al. 2007, p. 1065).

Fischer and Breakey claim that ‘knowledge of these disadvantages should be used to advocate for better services to prevent homelessness and support homeless people’ (1991, p. 15). Services that support people with mental health and substance abuse issues will have a positive effect on helping people find adequate homes. There has been a clear demonstration of the relationship between different forms of homelessness and its’ affects beyond lack of shelter. Individuals experiencing absence of shelter lose their basic human rights and can suffer the effects of mental illness; substance abuse; and separation from people, education and employment. The severity of the impacts explained shows that homelessness is a deeper issue than merely lack of shelter.

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