Justice Health Unit researchers Melissa Willoughby and Dr Jesse Young, along with Sam Biondo of Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA), made a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Homelessness in Australia.
The submission, Improving health and redressing health inequities in people with co-occurring homelessness, criminal justice involvement, and substance use issues, described the interconnectedness of homelessness with criminal justice involvement and substance use, and the impact of this on health and service access.
It identified avoidable barriers accessing, and being retained in, community health and social services that need to be removed to effectively address the health inequities and premature death faced by people experiencing co-occurring homelessness, criminal justice involvement and substance use issues.
To address the health and social inequities experienced by these marginalised people, the submission called for:
- an integrated service approach to providing secure and stable housing, therapeutic approaches to substance use issues, and preventing or providing alternatives to justice-involvement
- adequately funded services and well trained staff
- the involvement of people with lived experience in the design, delivery and evaluation of services
- use of high quality, linked health, social, and justice records to assess the prevalence of co-occurring social, health and criminal justice issues, to evaluate services, and improve service provision to support an evidence-based response
The submission, dated 1 April 2020, is available here. The final report of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia’s Inquiry into homelessness in Australia, dated July 2021, is available here.