Myth busting around homelessness might just be working

If the results of a recent survey are anything to go by, there are some positive signs that the myths around homelessness are slowly being debunked. In the lead up to Homelessness Prevention Week, the Peer Education Support (PESP) team asked members of the public five general questions about homelessness – the majority of answers were thoughtful, and demonstrated an awareness of the nature and scope of homelessness in Victoria. 

When asked ‘why do people become homeless’ the most common response (54%) was family breakdown, followed by mental health issues (38%). Given that the single most common cause of homelessness in Victoria and Australia is people escaping family violence, the respondents were very well informed. It was pleasing to see that just 9% of people believed that homelessness was a personal choice. 

The next question also revealed a strong understanding of the problem with 77% stating there is no stereotype for people experiencing homelessness. This is a good sign that people are starting to question the over used image of an older bearded male sleeping rough as the face of homelessness. One of the hardest things to do in breaking down stereotypes around homelessness is getting people to empathise with the plight of people experiencing it. However, 70% realised that they too could become homeless, and that it could happen to anyone.

When thinking about how to end homelessness, the respondents had a range of ideas from providing more support (29%), housing (22%) and even getting governments to agree on a solution (22%). 

To get such well informed responses from a random survey is encouraging. During Homelessness Prevention Week CHP is running a series of lunch time events in the city looking at different aspects of homelessness. The results of this survey will form the basis of tomorrow’s discussion hosted by PESP, ‘What Homelessness Looks Like’ which is taking place at the HoMe Cafe, corner Little Collins St and Swanston from 12.30-1.30pm. 

It’s a free event, so make sure you come down to find out more about homelessness from the people who have lived it.