My idea is for specialised Homeless Mental Health Services, which would be dedicated to meeting the mental health needs of homeless people, so that they were able to recover from homelessness and go on to live productive lives in the community.

Existing homeless services know their clients can benefit from mental health care. Research shows a significant proportion of people who are homeless have mental illness and nearly all have experienced trauma, some before they were homeless, such as child abuse or domestic violence, some while being homeless, like having been assaulted. These are terrible experiences. Some people can recover on their own, others find this hard to do and remain homeless for many years. My big idea is for a specialised Homeless Mental Health Service, which would be dedicated to meeting the mental health needs of homeless people. This would be a Government service, like a Community Mental Health Service, but the difference is that it would be just for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and it would be staffed by mental health professionals experienced in the unique challenges faced by homeless men and women. These professionals would provide best-practice treatment and ongoing care in order to meet people’s individual needs. The service would help homeless people to improve their mental health and recover from homelessness, so that they were able to live independently in their own home. Homeless Mental Health Services could be set up across Australia, playing a vital role alongside existing services that provide medical care, accommodation, and support. People could be referred from a GP, hospital, or homeless service, or they could just walk in off the street. They would be met by staff who understood the urgency of their situation and had the means to help them. Homeless Mental Health Services would improve homeless people’s access to mental health care and ultimately reduce the number of people who are homeless in Australia.

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