Conferences & Abstracts

Mental health in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer Communities: Building resilience, Feb. 28, 2017, De Montfort University, Leicester

“LGBT homelessness and mental health”

Associate Professor Ruth McNair & Dr Cal Andrews

Homelessness is increasing for structural and personal reasons. It is increasingly clear that LGBT people are over-represented in homelessness services. Rigorous prevalence data is very difficult to obtain due to a failure to collect this information, however it is likely that 20 to 40 % of clients of homelessness services are LGBT. Specific drivers of LGBT homelessness include family rejection or violence, compounded by discrimination at a societal level in schools, workplaces and communities. As a result homeless LGBT people are more likely than others to have mental health issues, substance use and abuse experiences. To date, there has been minimal if any LGBT-specific housing and homelessness sector responses. With this background in mind, the Australian LGBTI homelessness project interim findings will be presented. These confirm the LGBT specific drivers, and bring new perspectives of the homelessness services sector. This sector is experiencing rapid increases in trans and gender diverse clients, while feeling totally unprepared to support them. There is a need for LGBT specific responses in policy, services and housing sectors.

Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA), Feb. 16-17, 2017, Melbourne

“Contribution of drug and alcohol use to pathways in and out of homelessness for LGBTI people in Victoria”

Dr Cal Andrews & Associate Professor Ruth McNair

As part of a broader research project on LGBTI homelessness in Victoria by the Gay and Lesbian Foundation of Australia, this presentation draws on data from semi-structured interviews with staff of homelessness services, and a purposive sample of individuals who identify as LGBTI and have firsthand experience of homelessness. It highlights the roles that drug and alcohol issues can play – amidst specific challenges for this population in accessing safe, affordable, appropriate housing – in facilitating pathways into homelessness, and constraining pathways out of homelessness. Examples include drug use as a coping mechanism, difficulties housing people effectively in environments where drug use is common, difficulties entering the private rental market, and ice and alcohol use among particular sub-groups.

Australasian Housing Researchers Conference (AHRC), Feb. 15-17, 2017, Melbourne

“The loss of housing and home: understanding the causes and consequences for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Australians”

Associate Professor Ruth McNair, Dr Sharon Parkinson & Dr Cal Andrews

Although there has been extensive research into the causes and consequences of homelessness, the unique and unequal experiences among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Australians remains a neglected area of study. This paper presents findings from a mixed method research project funded via the Gay and Lesbian Foundation of Australia. The project aimed to describe the unique and specific contributors to homelessness for LGBTI people using three methods: secondary data analysis from the Australian Journeys Home study and the ABS General Social Survey, interviews with 19 homelessness service providers and interviews with approximately 20 LGBTI people who have experienced homelessness in urban and rural/regional areas. Although LGBTI Australians experience of income inequality mirrors those of the broader homelessness population, the pathways into homelessness, their health, social wellbeing and experiences of accessing and use of services and housing is distinct. The implications of these findings for key homelessness policy initiatives, training for homelessness and welfare services, and LGBTI inclusive practice in the health and social services sectors are also discussed. The findings indicate significant specific drivers of homelessness for LGBTI people including family breakdown and family violence; perceptions of ‘otherness’ and discrimination in education, housing services and workplaces; and associated issues of mental health (especially anxiety), social isolation, poverty, and substance use (particularly alcohol and ice). Finding safe, stable permanent housing in the private rental market can also be more difficult in a climate of transphobia and stigmatisation, and in rural/regional areas.