The Australian Medical Association has endorsed a suggestion to tally deaths among the homeless population.

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The Australian Medical Association has labeled the numerous early deaths due to homelessness as a “national tragedy” and encouraged the government to allocate resources towards implementing a monitoring system and enhancing housing and health services.

Earlier this month, Guardian Australia reported that a 12-month investigation involving 627 cases found that numerous Australians who are homeless are passing away from preventable causes at a young age.

The average lifespan was only 44 years, revealing a concerning disparity in life expectancy, with failures in housing, healthcare, and the justice system contributing to the high number of deaths.

AMA president Stephen RobsonView image in fullscreen

The research revealed a significant disparity in life expectancy across the country for the first time. These results align with previous, more comprehensive studies done in specific regions, such as Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne.

The AMA president, Prof Steve Robson, stated that the untimely deaths of Australians who are homeless is a “tragic occurrence” for the nation.

He repeated the pleas of organizations focused on homelessness, such as the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness, for the national government to take charge in tracking deaths related to homelessness. This is not currently being done by any government in Australia.

“Regular and uniformly standardized data reporting is crucial in identifying patterns and determining which policies are necessary to tackle significant health problems,” stated Robson. “There is a great chance to turn this into a reality through the ongoing creation of a National Housing and Homelessness Plan.”

The fact that many homeless Australians are dying too soon is a tragedy for the country. The AMA believes that implementing a national reporting system would be beneficial in gathering consistent data on this problem.

In 2021, the AAEH requested that the previous administration commission the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to create a standardized reporting system for documenting homelessness-related deaths. However, this request was denied.

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The AIHW is currently undertaking a project to improve the recording of deaths among homeless individuals in Australia. This involves connecting data from specialist homelessness services with death records.

The Minister for Housing, Julie Collins, has deemed the untimely deaths of homeless individuals as “utterly unacceptable.” She has expressed her commitment to ongoing discussions with state and territory governments regarding data gathering and reporting.

In addition, the New South Wales government is exploring the option of requiring the reporting of deaths related to homelessness to the coroner. This would provide the government with a better understanding of the issue.

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The Council to Homeless Persons sent a letter to the government of Victoria, imploring them to take similar action.

Organizations that help the homeless and labor unions have expressed concern about a potential loss of $73 million in funding by the end of this fiscal year. This could put 700 essential support positions at risk.

The groups urged both federal and state governments to continue funding during a ministerial council meeting on Friday.

The potential consequences of the funding decrease pose a significant risk and uncertainty for homelessness services. As a result, they are unable to guarantee the continuation of staff contracts after June. If the funding cut goes through, it will result in a reduction of over 700 homelessness workers nationwide, intensifying the strain on an already burdened homelessness system.

AAP was informed by Collins that the government has a strong focus on providing more housing for the people of Australia.

I am eagerly anticipating the opportunity to meet with my fellow leaders from other states and territories to continue our important collaboration.


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