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Australian psychologists are increasingly concerned about the estimated 105,000 people who are homeless on any given night, and the increasing number of people (particularly families and young people) without stable accommodation. Housing is a key determinant of health, and homelessness is thus associated with many poor health outcomes, including much higher suicide rates and greater likelihood of a violent death, than in the general population.
Psychologists have much to offer in the field of homelessness. This includes the provision of psychological services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and program research, design and evaluation. Psychologists can also help influence public attitudes towards homeless people.
The APS addresses homelessness primarily from a psychological perspective, identifying specific vulnerable groups with complex needs who are particularly affected.
The APS also recognises that social deteminants of health such as family violence, poverty and life transition crises can amplify the risk of homelessness and exacerbate its effects.
A special edition of InPsych (October 2009) addressed homelessness. The special issue followed a roundtable on homelessness hosted by the APS for psychologists and other professionals working with people experiencing or at risk of homelessness
The APS has contributed a number of submissions to housing-related government inquiries.