Prevalence rates of mental disorders among homeless persons typically exceed general population estimates. Despite the high level of need in the homeless population, access to appropriate services is limited, particularly among those with co-occurring substance use and other mental disorders. There is a strong need to address the gap between the homelessness and health service sectors. The Australian Government’s White Paper on homelessness, ‘The Road Home’, highlighted the necessity of service and system level integration to prevent homelessness. Such an approach requires that funding streams, government programs and service delivery across diverse sectors are ‘joined up’ to deliver holistic and tailored interventions for homeless individuals. Although Australia has a number of cross-sectoral approaches currently in existence, the evidence regarding the most effective mechanism for such integration is currently lacking.
This project aims to increase our understanding of the ways in which homelessness, mental health and drug and alcohol services can be effectively coordinated or integrated, and the extent to which system and service integration is occurring in Australia at present. The project also seeks to provide case study evidence in relation to the purported benefits of different models of integrated care in the Australian context.
This study is being conducted in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, and comprises three components:
- Case studies of different models of integrated services or programmes from both the homelessness and health sectors;
- In-depth interviews with key stakeholders from the homelessness and health sectors, including policy and operational levels, as well as members of intergovernmental programs in the human services;
- Agency survey to identify the type and extent of interactions between agencies within a given geographical area (including both health and homelessness agencies, and government and non-government agencies).
In-depth surveys have been undertaken with a range of stakeholders. Case studies have been undertaken in Perth and Sydney. Preliminary analysis is underway.
Conroy, E., Burns, L., Flatau, P. & Clear, A. The integration of homelessness, mental health and drug and alcohol services in Australia. Oral presentation at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Annual Symposium. Sydney: August 2011.
Conroy, E., Burns, L., Flatau, P. & Clear, A. Integration of mental health, substance use and homelessness services in Australia. Invited presentation at the Faces in the Street 2nd International Conference, Sydney Australia: February 2011.
Conroy, E., Burns, L., Flatau, P. & Clear, A. The integration of homelessness, mental health and drug and alcohol services in Australia. Oral presentation at the National Homelessness Conference, Brisbane Australia: September 2010.