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This is what Tasmanian women told us about homelessness

Woman sitting in the back of a car with bags and boxes.
Woman sitting in the back of a car with bags and boxes.

Did you know?

Homelessness, and indeed being at the pointy end of the housing crisis in Tassie, has huge impacts on women’s mental health. 

We recently spoke to women in Tasmania about the impacts of housing insecurity and homelessness on their health. Although everyone’s experience was different, one of the universal things that women told us was about the experience of stress, worry and fatigue and the toll this took on their mental health.

Women told us that the incredible stress and sense of ‘overwhelm’ that being unable to afford the rent or mortgage brought. They also told us of incredible mental fatigue and just having push through, bury grief and sadness in order to ‘keep going for the kids.’  

Women also shared with us how insecurity or having no safe place to live could bring on new mental health challenges and make pre-existing conditions, like anxiety and depression, much, much worse.

This fits with what we know about people generally who present to homelessness services. Many report having a mental health condition, and it seems that the situation in Tassie is most severe. Data from Specialist Homelessness Services shows that over half (51%) of Tasmanian people who access homelessness services report a current mental health issue. This is quite a jump from the national rate of 30%.

Across Australia, women who were accessing homelessness services were more likely than men to report a current mental health issue (61% of women compared with 39% of men).

The good news is that women who could exit homelessness and find a stable place told us that it made a huge difference to their mental wellbeing. As one woman we spoke to said: “I’m ok. The house has made me ok. I don’t think you realise that until you get that [key] and you suddenly go [exhales deeply].”

Housing (and secure, affordable housing at that) is a basic human right. It is also vital for good mental health and wellbeing.

Read our report, Talking To Women About Homelessness Tasmania 2020 here.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020, Specialist homelessness services annual report: Clients with a Current Mental Health Issue.