Examining the politics, prevalence and precursors of homelessness amongst Australian veterans

This presentation will examine the background and report the findings and outcomes from a national study of veteran homelessness conducted for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) and the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute. Discussion of the background to the project will provide the necessary context to understand the political forces and agenda that resulted in DVA funding another prevalence study of veteran homelessness. Previous research has provided vastly different estimates of veteran homelessness yet this was the first project to use primary data to estimate the true prevalence of homelessness.

The project drew on a number of datasets to estimate this prevalence and examine the nature of homelessness. A number of homeless veterans were also interviewed to examine their trajectories into homelessness. The presentation will report on the prevalence of homelessness, with particular focus on the risk factors and the different trajectories into homelessness. Findings indicate that the extent of homelessness is greater than was previously estimated, and that the risk factors are similar to those of the general population, but with additional risks associated with military service. The presentation will then outline the response to the findings, including those from federal and state government agencies.

Fiona Hilferty is a Senior Research Fellow at the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC), UNSW Sydney. Fiona has expertise in applied social policy research. Her work explores multiple social policy domains including mental health, child protection and homelessness. She has a particular interest in programs that seek to change long term outcomes for disadvantaged people through early intervention, and evaluation methodologies suitable for these distinct program types. Current and recent projects include: Homelessness amongst Australian veterans (Department of Veterans Affairs) and Evaluation and capacity building activities with Targeted Early Intervention providers in NSW (Department for Communities and Justice).

Geoff Evans served for 20 years in the Australian Army’s Special Operations Command as both a commissioned and non-commissioned officer. In 2013, he founded Homes for Heroes, a national charity supporting homeless veterans and their families. Geoff was instrumental in raising the issue of veteran homelessness and continues to be at the forefront of efforts to tackle the issue. In 2014, he was appointed to the Prime Ministerial Advisory Council on Veterans Mental Health and was reappointed to a second term in 2017. In January 2016, Geoff was appointed CEO of Team Rubicon Australia. He holds an international relations degree from Deakin University, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Ilan Katz joined the Social Policy Research Centre in January 2005. Prior to joining the SPRC he had several years of policy, practice and research experience in children and family services in the UK. He started his career as a social worker and manager, working in several local authorities and NGOs in London. He was head of Evaluation Practice, Development and Research at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. After spending some time as a civil servant, he returned to research to become Deputy Director of the Policy Research Bureau. His research interests include the evaluation of complex interventions, parenting, child protection, youth justice, prevention and family support, children, families and communities, comparative child welfare systems, migration, race and ethnicity.

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