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Public Health Assignment: Homelessness & Housing Issues in Australia



Write a public health assignment critically analysing homelessness and housing issues in Australia.


1. Introduction:
The current public health assignment critically discusses about Australian homelessness which is a concerning issue and it is increasing day by day, at a fast rate due to the challenges in the housing sectors. It has been estimated that every night 116000 people in Australia become shelter less. Majority of the homelessness issues are found in the cities of Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Housing issues is one of the major factors contributing to the homelessness in Australia. Housing is not affordable for a low-income household in Australia. The average income households spend over 30% of their total income to keep their shelters intact (Abrera, 2018). In order to reduce homelessness, the housing issues need to be adjusted.

2. Theoretical explanation to the policy: Alford structural model
In the Alford structural theory, he tried to explain the political scenario which deals with interest and power. When one possesses the power, he is able to bring significant reforms favouring the agent’s interest or he could negatively or positively affect the interest of others. If a person values or finds worth in something, they tend to be interested in that specific thing.

As per Joly et al (2018), Alford categorised three health care interest:

  • The dominancy towards the interest should be held by the health professionals, i.e., the doctors. Their primary interest should be seeking clinical autonomy, concentrate on best interest of the individual patients. The authority must be given to the dominant interest holder for addressing the seriousness of the disease. They could analyse which health care services should be provided to secure the interest of the patients.
  • The government bureaucrats consider the interest of the politicians, health executives and the public health doctors regarding the health care services. These civil servants and the other executive managers of the public interest should hold the same value of interest. And these interests have some important key values like cost, prediction and control, which includes the use control over the clinical work and
  • The interest is held particularly by the community where everyone can access high-quality health care services for free. Health care should be equal for everyone with high quality and no one should be denied. The community comprises the patient and the public. Those who fight for the community or advocate in favour of their needs are known as activists or the representatives of the community. In many countries like in United Kingdom, people are appointed to speak for the interest of the public and the patients. In many sectors the interest of the public and the patients are suppressed and cannot be helped during the time of need. These public advisors, advocated or the activist takes necessary action to provide equal health care services for everyone (Torfing et al.,2021)

Even many committees or the decision making parties have certain members from the patient’s side but confusion occurs due too the demand the common interest of the entire community lacks. So the people who are experienced and expert as the patient’s advocates then appointed as the interest saviours of the community. In Australia structural model is quite necessary to put effectiveness in the community due to homelessness. Homelessness is the root of many serious health issues among the public proper structural theoretical framework needs to put in action to manage the community.

2.1. Homelessness and housing issues in Australia
Homelessness is turning to an ultimate serious issue in Australia according to survey around 1 in every 200 Australians are without secure place to sleep. A home is not about only roof and wall it basic foundation to feel secure and safe. Australians youth are mostly subjected to homelessness specially who are less than 18 years of age. These are caused due to shortage of cheap and affordable houses which result they end up in streets (Fildes, Perrens and Plummer,2018).

According to a report that was published in “The Guardian” Helen at 55 is homeless for support she started spending her night at her friend’s house even contacted church and other charity services they provided her with boarding house which were totally unsafe and unhygienic. She even registered her name in government social housing but that may taker 10years to get a house. She grew dependent on alcohol due to the due to lack for secure and permanent housing.

According to the report of 2011 census homelessness figures 105,237 people were in the list which was actually an increased figure from 2006 at a rate of 17%. Australians homeless are broadly classified into various categories like sleeping in tents, people taking shelter in other household, boarding houses and lodging. There was a certain improvement in the data of sleeping rough but yet there was a considerate increase in the homelessness services which is about 23%. Later in the year 2016 the figures took a jump of 14%. The estimated figures say that from the year 2011 to 2018 the homelessness in Australia grew up to 14%. And especially in Melbourne the state worsens and the homelessness grew up to 200% during 2011 to 2018 (Parsell , 2019).

Inadequate housing is the key problem to the homelessness crisis in Australia. As the census reported that about 65% of the low income household spends 30% of their income to provide shelter and other 3, 50,000 families spends half of their income to pay rent. This eventually result a compromise of personal safety for children and women. Even the children who are homeless are having asthma, ear infections and other chronic illness and children are forced to leave school within 12 months due to homelessness. The social security of some people is hampered due to homelessness as they cannot provide certain documents to prove their identity. Housing price was peaking in Australia for long period of time that caused rent increment and even the price of affordable housing. This a grabbing opportunity of the landlord’s market as they increased the rent in regular intervals which left people compromising on their basic needs, for some people of low income belt unable to find work they turn completely homeless(Horsell and Zufferey, 2017). The figure of homelessness again increased from the last year at a rate of 13.7%. This is turning to an utmost serious issue in the public health policy of Australia where the people from the lower income belt and the youth are subjected to homelessness. One problem like this triggering many other safety, health and educational issues in the public, home is the basic necessity for every individual in a society.

The “Mission Australia” housing took Two initiative are taken to provide all vulnerable people with a home which are Social housing and Affordable housing. In the category of social housing, people from the low income belt with their name listed in the public housing can get a secure home paying rent only 25% of their income.

In the affordable housing are generally managed privately by the non profit organisation where rent can be charged up to the maximum 80% of the current market rate. This plan is for the people from moderate income belt so that they can support needs to life apart from rent.

“Homelessness Australia” is another non profit organisation working to reduce homelessness in Australia (Seivwright et al., 2020). Their mission is to provide home to every shelter less and promote the national policy to cut down homelessness in a national level.

“Street Smart Australia” helps to provide fund to other different small organisation to provide other with a home. They are located in Melbourne and the raised up to the amount of $3 million which helped at round 1100 housing projects.

2.2 Policies to support the homeless
During the budget presentation on the year 2017-2018 the Australian government encouraged to develop capital for affordable housing. The government allotted $30 million to the social Impact Investment from which $10.2 million would be used in the next 10 years for the betterment of housing and to improve the welfare of the people who are the risk of homelessness. The government took a step which makes the real estate’s to donate 0.1% of their selling amount to the social fund which helps to ensure affordable housing in Australia (MacKenzie et al., 2017)

The Australian government has understood the seriousness of homelessness and the housing issues in the continent. They are trying to formulate better housing policies through the National Partnership Agreement on homelessness (NPAH). During the year 2020-2021, the Australian government has spent over $8.4 billion to address the issue of homelessness. Even with the assistance of the commonwealth rent assistance they are helping eligible citizen to get their rental expenses (Gilbert, 2018).

The National Homelessness and Housing Agreement (NHHA) is helping the Australian government with adequate funds. As a result, the government has received $129million from NHHA to ensure that the services for homelessness continue in the current year. Women and children are mostly affected by the domestic violence and ultimately subjected to homelessness. The NHHA considers them as the priority and aims to improve their condition under the care institution. NHHA is improving the state of homelessness in Australia, by starting various strategies and reforms that can contribute in the reduction of homelessness (Gilbert, 2018).

The Australian government is spending over $78 million to ensure special safety for women and children who have experienced domestic torture. In this amount 460 million is contributed to the formation of Emergency Accommodation where women and children can take shelter after escaping from the torture at home (Reid et al., 2020).

3. Alternate solution for homelessness and housing issues
To reduce in the homelessness and housing issues of Australia it needs several strategies and proper reform to ensure less homelessness.

  • The development of National Homelessness Plans includes NPAH and the Commonwealth Government Five Years’ Funding Plan. These plans aim at providing the best services to the people who are facing the problem of homelessness. The commonwealth is providing a fund of $ 247 million to ensure that the services to the homeless under National Affordable Housing Agreement are extended (Parsell, Clarkeand Kuskoff, 2020).
  • “Housing first” should be the policy taken by the government to safe the people from homelessness this plan was extremely successful in Finland. The plan includes demand of the social housing should meet with the supply. In the social housing program housing first must be used as the allocation program, the services that funds the housing should be continued till it meet the maximum demand (Baxteret al., 2019).
  • Fast rehousing can again be another set of strategies to reduce the homelessness; these services should be specially provided to the women and the children facing domestic violence through this program they must be ensured with safe and secure social housing.
  • “No wrong door” system should be generated which acts for 24/7. They can act as a quick response to the people facing homelessness
  • There should be more focus on prevention of homelessness. There should be services provided by social care groups that would help the people who are at risk of homelessness. The services provided by the social care groups must ensure that the people are prevented from losing their shelters.

The programs will not be able to immediately reduce the rate of homelessness in Australia. However, with this strategic movement taken by the government they are ensuring a cut down in the number of homeless. The proper housing and immediate housing should be provided by the government to secure safety of the citizen specially women and kid.

3.1 Impact in health
Homelessness is itself very challenging and this has a direct relationship with the mental illness. The stress of insecure housing or being shelter less is affecting the mental state of the individual. Especially some women who end up being homeless due to domestic violence are more at a risk of mental and physical illness due to less amount of fund. Alcohol addiction is another part of mental health deformation comes from the stress of insecure housing (Duke and Searby, 2019). Many Australians are spending half of their family income to provide themselves with housing thus affecting the daily needs which eventually leading them too some illness. Elderly people who are at the age above 65 are even facing the problem of homelessness which is becoming more challenging for them at that they are facing more chronic illness being shelter less, improper eating and even avoiding some daily medicines which are needed at that age. The government needs to take proper initiative to save after being homeless, to support their health condition (Sturman and Matheson, 2020).

4. Advantages and Disadvantages of the Theoretical Framework and conclusion
According to the theoretical framework of Alford structural model explain the interest of the bureaucrats, patients and the care giver or clinicians should be common to uplift the condition of the community where these three are situated. Due to homelessness and housing issues, there arises many health care problems among the individuals. In this case, the approach based on the Alford structural model would be advantageous. The dominant interest of the clinician should be seeking maximum help of the patient. If clinical autonomy arises due to the illness from the homelessness, it will ultimately aim towards the reduction of homelessness. These health professionals have the power to address the serious health issues of the homeless individuals, which would be the best for both the patients and the clinician. The civil servants who carry out the wishes of the doctors, politicians and even the dean of the school must be aware of the fact how the homelessness is affecting the society if Alford structural model is followed. The interest of the patient, i.e., the homeless individual can be sensed by the civil servants through consultation with the doctors and politicians (Alford, 2019).

The disadvantage of the model is that it can act adversely when applied to the issue of homelessness because the individual needs of the homeless is suppressed under the interest of the community as a whole. Community here means the homeless people and the those fighting for their rights. Sometimes it is not possible to resolve all the issues of the person facing homelessness. Even if some committee is formed where part of them represent the whole community, every individual has their unique struggle in the homeless. There should be an individual approach in solving the issue rather involving them in a community.

It can be concluded from the above discussion on public health assignment that homelessness and housing issue is a major concern in Australia. One out of every two hundred individuals is shelter less at night. Women and children are highly prone towards homeless because they were subjected to domestic violence. Social housing should be readily for the people listed themselves with the government to bring reduction in the homelessness. The government must take an action to control the rent demand by the landlord because some low income citizen spend half of their income in rent which leads to cut down other necessities to life . Australians understood the serious of the issues they are funding under NHHA programming to ensure 50% reduction in the problem even the commonwealth acting along with through funding to provide social housing to all the homeless individual. The health is impacted negatively due to homelessness people getting mental illness and the addiction towards alcohol is rising. Homelessness is impacting the society negatively in Australia. There should be strategic and dedicated efforts by the government to pull down the number.

Alford, R.R., 2019. The Political Language of the Nonprofit Sector 1. In Language, symbolism, and politics (pp. 17-50). Routledge.

Baxter, A.J., Tweed, E.J., Katikireddi, S.V. and Thomson, H., 2019. Effects of Housing First approaches on health and well-being of adults who are homeless or at risk of homelessness: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. J Epidemiol Community Health, 73(5), pp.379-387.

Bretherton, J., 2017. Homelessness and gender reconsidered. European Journal of Homelessness, pp.1-22.

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d’Abrera, C., 2018. Dying with their rights on: the myths and realities of ending homelessness in Australia.

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Seivwright, A., Callis, Z., Thielking, M. and Flatau, P., 2020. Chronic Homelessness in Melbourne: Third-Year Outcomes of Journey to Social Inclusion Phase 2 Study Participants.

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