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Violence Faced by Australia’s Homeless


Wednesday, 15th December 2010 at 2:08 pm
Staff Reporter
New Australian research uses ‘biographies of violence’ to highlight the links between violence and homelessness.

Wednesday, 15th December 2010
at 2:08 pm
Staff Reporter


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Violence Faced by Australia’s Homeless
Wednesday, 15th December 2010 at 2:08 pm

New research into trauma and homelessness uses ‘biographies of violence’ to understand how homeless people manage and survive repeated episodes of violence throughout their lives.

Rough Living: Surviving Violence and Homelessness draws on the life stories of six men and six women experiencing

Early one morning my friend and I were awoken by a size 12 alarm clock. For some reason three guys who had a few too many decided they would attack a couple of ‘streeties’ and me and my mate were the first that they came across. They kicked and punched us so hard that they put us both in hospital. When we reported the attack to the police they said ‘well you live on the street, what did you expect?’. This story, shared by one of Sydney’s rough sleepers in the report, highlights the random nature of violence against homeless people and a belief on the street that these attacks are not taken seriously.

homelessness in Sydney.

The report, commissioned by the Homeless Persons’ Legal Service (a joint project of PIAC and the Public Interest Law Clearing House) reveals the longterm impacts of childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

The Rough Living report found that:

  • 11 participants reported childhood sexual and physical abuse perpetrated mostly by parents and step-parents but also by siblings;
  • 8 participants described childhoods marked by their parents’ relationship breakdowns and separation, addiction, mental illness, housing instability, and inability and unwillingness to care for their children;
  • 7 participants reported witnessing their parents’ domestic violence and 5 were also exposed to the physical and sexual abuse of their siblings.

CEO of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) Edward Santow says the report challenges public perceptions that homeless people somehow deserve the violence they experience because of their risky lifestyles.

Santow says the report demands a re-examining of entrenched misunderstandings about violence and homelessness and service delivery to vulnerable groups.

The research for Rough Living was conducted by Dr Catherine Robinson from the University of Technology Sydney, and was funded by PIAC.

Download Rough Living: Surviving Violence and Homelessness here [PDF]



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