S77: Reflecting on homelessness, rough sleeping and mental illness: Using data to better understand the connection and drive action.

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By September 17, 2019 No Comments

Authors: Priscilla Ennals, Shannon O'Keefe

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: Reflecting on homelessness, rough sleeping and mental illness: Using data to better understand the connection and drive action.

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers



Shannon is a teacher, counsellor and community services professional who currently holds the Regional Manager (Complex Needs) portfolio with Neami National. Shannon (on behalf of Neami National’s Street to Home team) has lead responsible for the implementation and management of the Adelaide Zero Project By Name List.

Increased visibility of homelessness through people sleeping rough in major cities is driving Australian debate about the potential causes and solutions to homelessness. In Adelaide, a collective action project – Adelaide Zero Project – is aiming to end rough sleeping by the end of 2020. Using the internationally used functional zero approach we aim to know of everyone who is rough sleeping in inner city Adelaide “by name” and “by need” and to use this knowledge to centrally prioritise housing and support.

This presentation will describe the approach used, the development of a central “By Name List” (BNL) and how this list is driving coordinated responses to the people who are most vulnerable. Further, it will share what we are learning about the role mental illness is playing in relation to people rough sleeping, their hospital and emergency department usage, and co-existing health and drug and alcohol issues. This data is providing refined understandings of the drivers into rough sleeping and guidance to support housing people effectively. For the first time in Adelaide, comprehensive data is informing understanding of the issue, testing the effectiveness of the actions taken, and supporting advocacy for structural changes that are required to move towards ending homelessness.

Learning Objectives
Learning Objective 1: The audience will gain an understanding of how Adelaide is gathering data about how mental illness intersects with a range of other factors for many people who are rough sleeping and using this to drive more effective action to both prevent rough seeping and house people who have been sleeping rough.
Learning Objective 2: Mental ill-health is understood to be a driver into homelessness and a factor that can add to the complexity in housing people, but exactly how, why and to what extent this impacts, is not fully understood. This project is delivering new and more nuanced understanding.

Brackertz, N., Wilkinson, A., & Davison, J. (2018). Housing, homelessness and mental health: towards systems change. AHURI Research Paper, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne

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