Rough Sleepers Call for a Safer Night’s Sleep - Report
Thursday, 30th January 2014 at 8:28 am
A lack of after-hours and weekend services are a continuing high need for people who sleep rough, according to a new homelessness report.
StreetCount 2013 – Living Rough in Melbourne is the first qualitative research project undertaken as part of the StreetCount research series by the City of Melbourne.
The research said it focused on capturing the lived experience of those who live rough in Melbourne with a view to better understand the pathways into, through and out of rough sleeping.
Participants called for the establishment of a 24-hour day centre that would provide a safe place to be with access to assistance in the early hours of the morning, when conditions on the street are the most unsafe.
Participants also called for access to storage, meals and showers on the weekend, on public holidays and after hours.
“The idea of a casual job pool for rough sleepers was also strongly supported,” the report said.
“The job pool would provide casual, cash in hand and low skilled labor opportunities similar to the Big Issue for rough sleepers.
“The aim of the pool is not to provide training or developmental opportunities in the first instance, but rather to give rough sleepers a constructive and normalising day time activity.”
The report found that the early years of rough sleepers were often characterised by violence and neglect.
Seventy eight per cent of participants had been exposed to drugs and alcohol as a teenager, 70 per cent experienced childhood sexual or physical abuse, 67 per cent had left school early, 45 per cent had a disability of some kind and 21 per cent had been in state care.
It found that participants relied heavily on some services for daily survival particularly food vans and day centres. Participants were less likely to use services that necessitated extensive engagement, such as health services, drug and alcohol services or job service centres. Participants often used hospital emergency departments.
The report said that there were roughly 1300 people experiencing homelessness in Melbourne at any given time.
“Rough sleepers are the smallest group of approximately 100 – 120 people; with approximately 800 people living in Rooming houses; approximately 200 people living in crisis accommodation and a further 200 people, approximately staying with family or friends.
“The City of Melbourne has focused research efforts on rough sleepers as this group is known to be the most vulnerable and marginalised group,” the report said.
Findings from the research will contribute to the development of City of Melbourne’s Homelessness Strategy 2014 – 2017. A draft of this strategy will be available for public consultation in May 2014.
The report can be found here.