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Mandating reporting of homelessness deaths will save lives


Victoria’s peak advocacy body for homelessness has written to Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes urging the government to mandate the reporting of homelessness deaths to the coroner.

Council to Homeless Persons CEO Deborah Di Natale has warned the minister that more Victorians will die unnecessarily unless we understand what is fuelling these tragedies.

“Homelessness does not just rob people of safe and secure shelter; it can kill them. People who experience homelessness are at much higher risk of serious illness and death from the extreme heat or cold, untreated medical conditions, mental health, addiction issues and suicide,” Ms Di Natale said. 

“Each night, about 30,000 Victorians do not have a safe place to call home. Despite the best efforts of frontline services, too many people who experience homelessness are falling through the cracks. 

“People come to homelessness from a range of experiences. We must always remember that these are people whose friends and family love them, and that they deserve a home and healthcare like everybody else.”

“The absence of mandatory reporting means we simply do not know exactly who is dying prematurely in Victoria while homeless, when and why.

“Victoria cannot stem the rising tide of homelessness deaths if it does not understand what is fuelling it.”

CHP is urging the government to mandate the reporting of “the death of a person experiencing homelessness” or “the death of a person living without a home” under the Coroners Act. 

“This achievable reform will allow authorities and services to pinpoint opportunities for intervention to save people’s lives. We cannot tolerate a situation where some deaths are deemed less worthy of investigation simply because the person did not have a home,” Ms Di Natale said.

“This reform must be accompanied by a firm commitment in the upcoming budget to adding at least 6,000 public and community dwellings each year for the next decade, alongside a genuine commitment to Housing First programs like Homelessness to a Home that save lives.”

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