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An open letter calling for action on homelessness deaths


15 February 2024    

The Hon. Jaclyn Symes MLC, Attorney-General 
The Hon. Harriet Shing MLC, Minister for Housing 

Dear Attorney-General and Minister, 

On 5 February 2024, Guardian Australia published a series of articles (here and here) highlighting the distressing fact that people experiencing homelessness in Australia are dying at an average age of just 44 – more than 30 years younger than the median age of death for the general population. They are dying in circumstances that are often violent. They are dying deprived of the dignity we would want for our own loved ones. And most disturbingly, they are often dying unnecessarily due to easily treatable illnesses and injuries. 

It’s unacceptable for people to be dying in Victoria because of unsafe living conditions. To respond effectively, our State needs to understand the full scope of this problem – but this is not currently possible as the Government does not keep records of homelessness deaths. For that reason, Council to Homeless Persons wrote to the Attorney-General on 5 February asking that the necessary legislative changes be made so that the death in Victoria of any person experiencing homelessness must be reported to the Coroner.  

The Government has given no response to this request. 

So we, the undersigned, write to you again asking for urgent action to end this tide of needless, invisible deaths.  

We ask you to make a minor amendment to the Coroners Act 2008 stipulating that the death of a person experiencing homelessness is reportable to the Coroner. We also ask that you commit to the building of 60,000 new social homes over the next 10 years, along with appropriate supports, to prevent further avoidable deaths.  

Thank you for your time and consideration of this urgent matter.  


Deborah Di Natale – CEO, Council to Homeless Persons 
Bronwyn Pike – CEO, Uniting Vic Tas
Sarah Toohey – CEO, Community Housing Industry Association (Vic) 
Hang Vo – CEO, Sacred Heart Mission 
Katelyn Butterss – CEO, Victorian Public Tenants Association 
Bevan Warner – CEO, Launch Housing
Bryan Lipmann – CEO, Wintringham 
Trudi Ray – CEO, Haven Home Safe 
Jocelyn Bignold – CEO, McAuley Community Services for Women 
Julie Edwards – CEO, Jesuit Social Services 
Michelle Thompson – CEO, Family Access Network
Heidi Tucker – CEO, Anchor Community Care Ltd
Sean Spencer – Acting CEO, Melbourne City Mission
Wayne Merritt – CEO, Wayss
Louisa Gibbs – CEO, Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria
Karen Fletcher – Executive Officer, Flat Out Inc
Gayle Clarke – CEO, Homes Out West 
Mark Goodie – CEO, Merri Outreach Support Service
Merrin Wake – CEO, The AWARE Project
Chris Povey – CEO, Justice Connect
Kate Wheller – Executive Officer, CISVIC
Mel Dye – CEO, Southside Justice
Elisa Buggy – CEO, Inner Melbourne Community Legal
Damian Stock – CEO, ARC Justice

The Hon. Kevin Bell AM KC
Elena Campbell – Associate Director, Centre for Innovative Justice
Stan Winford – Associate Director, Centre for Innovative Justice
Mitchell Burney – Quantum Support Services
Meredith Gorman – Launch Housing 
Caitlin Porter – The Gordon TAFE 
Daniel Ward – Kingston City Council 
Claire Coxon – Salvation Army 
Louis Kuhlmann – VincentCare 
Emily Tasmakis – Melbourne City Mission 
Kate Weston – Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health 
Amelia Bussing – Stepping Stone House 
Vicky Vacondios 
Heidi Hunter 
Jessica Dickson – Melbourne City Mission – Better Futures 
Andrew Barnes 
Martene Blay – Uniting Vic Tas (Wimmera) 
Kate Mecham – Safe & Equal 
Mark Planigale – Mark Planigale Consulting 
Andrea Hutton – Melbourne City Mission 
Diane Ewin 
Paul Milkins – The Salvation Army 
Sue Watt – Hope Street Youth & Family Services
Rebecca Callahan – Colac Area Health 
Paula Burns – Wintringham
Mishelle Kerr – Women’s Liberation
Sarah Amos – Salvation Army
Leanne Lewis – Sacred Heart Mission
Tania Cass – Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
Kimberley Shaw – Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
Narelle Ramsay – Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
Bianca Benning – DPV Health
Sharon Bailey – Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
Dalton Kealey – Family Access Network
Barbara Hill – Workforce Innovation Development Institute
Monique Murray – Blessing Bags Melbourne
Chris Boyd – AECOM
Richard Evans – Gippsland Lakes Complete Health
Kathryn Capylgin – Gippsland Lakes Complete Health
Kylie Green – Quantum Support Services
Stephanie Coupar – Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
Carolyn Richards – Quantum Support Services
Kerry Lowden – Quantum Support Services
Leeanne Clark – Quantum Support Services
Jane Somerville – Quantum Support Services
Narelle Slegers – Quantum Support Services
Bianca D’Aquino – Quantum Support Services
Tanya Lynch – Quantum Support Services
Sr Caroline Price – Sisters of the Good Shepherd
Hayley Gram – Quantum Support Services
Natalie Sloan – Quantum Support Services
Trish Brown – Quantum Support Services
Catherine Bragg – Foley House
Jayde Hibbs – Quantum Support Services
Sarah Heller – Quantum Support Services
Kathy Madden – VACCA
Ken Wilson – Wintringham
Kelly Cameron – Gippsland Lakes Complete Health
Sophie Parsons – The Salvation Army
Maddison Cobbe – Launch Housing
Meagan Skehill – CISVIC
Shona Critch
Kylie Hay – Haven Home Safe
Cheyann Pryor – Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency
Kate Langley – Amnesty International Australia
Theo Chrysostomou – Wintringham
Geraldine O’Connor – Wintringham
Annemarie van de Kamp
Tracey Turner-Mann – Wintringham
Melissa Jansz – Wintringham
Patricia Dalton – Wintringham
Mark Haynes – Uniting Vic Tas (Ballarat)
Katrina Mackley – Uniting Vic Tas (Wimmera)
Claire Merry – Uniting Vic Tas
Tegan Johnson – Uniting Vic Tas (Wimmera)
Kerry Bennett – Uniting Vic Tas
Debbie Thompson – Uniting Vic Tas (Gippsland)
Glenn Kimberley – Uniting Vic Tas (Wimmera)
Ayden M – Uniting Vic Tas (Ballarat)
Bridie de Kunder – Uniting Vic Tas
Jennifer Robb – Wintringham
Anna McGuane – Uniting Vic Tas (Ballarat)
Kate Dharumasena – Uniting Vic Tas (Ballarat)
Jodye Lyons – Uniting Vic Tas
Michael Blythe – Uniting Vic Tas
Chisholm Norman-Hade – Uniting Vic Tas (Ballarat)
Alison Whitford – Uniting Vic Tas
Tiffany Jeffrey – Uniting Vic Tas (Ballarat)
Jessica Justice – Uniting Vic Tas
Jerry Ham – Uniting Vic Tas
Britt Aquilina – Quantum Support Services
Sylvia Cassar – McCormack Housing
Lukas Clausen – Drummond Street Services
Leeanne Bremner
Kelsie Miller – Drummond Street Services

Tom Johnson – Council to Homeless Persons
Helen Duggan – Council to Homeless Persons
Sarah Martin – Melbourne Heart Care 
Jo Impey – Glen Eira City Council 
James Pullar 
Susie Lukis – Statewide Children’s Resource Program 
Rachel O’Brien – Uniting Ballarat 
Benita Menting – LCCLC 
Angela Sheeran – Gold Coast Project for Homeless Youth 
Erin Slattery – Good Samaritan Inn 
James Treloar – CatholicCare Victoria 
Cymantha Thompson – Good Samaritan Inn 
Amiee Whelan – Uniting Vic Tas 
Christine Thirkell 
Elroy Dearn – RMIT 
Brian Hoey 
Goodie Hiensch – Haven Home Safe 
Karl Quast – Bendigo Community Health Services 
Claire Lilburne – South Port Community Housing Group 
Rachel Edwards – Warrnambool City Council 
Mardi Beaumont – AccessCare, Kingston Council 
Kylie Wyatt – Quantum Support Services 
Michelle Twigger – Uniting Vic/Tas
Vickianne Purcell – Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency
Elvira Andreoli – Wintringham
Teagan Renee Callagher – Foley House, Salvation Army
Karol Josevska – Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
Maree Davies – Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
Yvonne Henderson – Bolton Clarke
Larry Stanton – Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency
Andrew Kelly – Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
Suzan Makhoul – DPV Health
Maria Strofalis – Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
Chloe Roberts – Wintringham
Vaheesan Saminathan – Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
Kylie Smith – MCM Housing
Chris McNamara – Gippsland Homelessness Network
Cindy Pullar – Quantum Support Services
Susan Andrews – Quantum Support Services
Cheryl Barnes – Quantum Support Services
Belinda Lia – Quantum Support Services
Brooke McDonald – Quantum Support Services
Chiara Centra – Quantum Support Services
Emma Dobson – Quantum Support Services
Samuel Sokor – Quantum Support Services
Crystal Masut – Quantum Support Services
Jayme Metcalfe – Quantum Support Services
Sam Jinnette – Community Housing Limited
Lisa McLeod – Quantum Support Services
Ange McNiffe – Quantum Support Services
Iwona Stevens – DPV Health Homelessness Service
Samantha Read – Healthworks
Kristen Jeffrey – Quantum Support Services
Belinda Thompson – Quantum Support Services
Fiona Schlensog – Wathaurong
Anne-Marie Cupples
Michelle Jacobs – WISE Employment
Gabriel Aleksandrs
Ramesh Kumar – Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
Anne Morton
Kris Atkinson – Salvation Army
Rachel Lee – Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
Ellen Miller – Wintringham
Andrea Leicester – Wintringham
Mary-Anne Vidler – Wintringham
Jane Taylor – Wintringham
Petalynne Smith
Taleen Malone – Wintringham
Tania Cass – Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
Tanya Atkinson – Wintringham
Alison Whitford – Uniting Vic Tas
Anna Crouch – Uniting Vic Tas (Ballarat)
Joel Kimberley – Uniting Vic Tas (Wimmera)
Kim Minne – Uniting Vic Tas (Wimmera)
Adam Liversage – Uniting Vic Tas (Ballarat)
Ada Watson – Uniting Vic Tas (Ballarat)
Luke Mookhoek – Uniting Vic Tas (Ballarat)
Stacey Park – Uniting Vic Tas
Kate Johnson – Uniting Vic Tas (Ballarat)
Maree Drennan – Uniting Vic Tas (Ballarat)
Allanah Settle – Uniting Vic Tas
Jess Smart – Uniting Vic Tas
Naomi McCullagh-Stock – Uniting Vic Tas
Callan Anderson – Uniting Vic Tas
Allison Overington – Wintringham
Debbie Amy – Uniting Vic Tas
Sharlene Korney – Uniting Vic Tas (Wimmera)
Sam Green – Uniting Vic Tas (Ballarat)
Kelly Magee – Uniting Vic Tas
Riley Ellard – Centre for Innovative Justice
Doyle Miller – Wintringham
Antoinette Pitt – Australian Progressives
Adam Raynar – Uniting Vic Tas
Alex Nicholls – Drummond Street Services
Adam Strauss – Drummond Street Services

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