Lifestyle Family breakdown linked to homelessness

Family breakdown linked to homelessness

Disadvantaged children in Australia who have had a family breakdown are more likely to experience homelessness later in life than disadvantaged children whose parents stay together, according to research by the University of Melbourne.

Dr Julie Moschion and Professor Jan van Ours  undertook the study by analysing data from Journeys Home— the largest and most comprehensive study of homelessness and housing insecurity in Australia.

Their study tracked the movements of 1,700 Australians who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

“Of the participants who had experienced homelessness in their life, 62 per cent identified family breakdown or conflict as the main reason for becoming homeless in the first place,” Dr Moschion says.

“We knew then from the interviews that the majority of participants felt that their parents’ separation played a critical role, but this study provides the evidence to support that.”

The study found that if parents separate before the child is 12, both boys and girls have a significantly greater chance of becoming homeless by age 30.

However, if parents separate when a child is 12 or older, increased risk of homelessness only persists for boys.

The risk of homelessness for both boys and girls is greater when parents were married before they broke up, compared to those who were in a de facto relationship.

Dr Moschion says the study is a critical step in understanding how people become homeless.

“We know that homelessness, whether that be sleeping rough or staying in temporary accommodation for example, is an increasingly evident problem. But to solve the problem we need to better address the factors that lead to it.

“Providing early intervention to help disadvantaged one-parent households is one possible way we can better help people stay in secure and affordable housing,“ she said.

Read more about the study’s findings here. Story credit: University of Melbourne newsroom.

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