Women Sleeping Rough

01 May 2022

Women sleeping rough: The health, social and economic costs of homelessness is the first study to investigate the health outcomes of women sleeping rough and its associate costs. The self-report survey data was collected over a seven-year period in Australian cities by NGOs supporting those experiencing homelessness. This study provides one of the largest samples of women sleeping rough as well as experiencing other forms of homelessness.

Women were surveyed using the VI-SPDAT tool during Connections/Registry Weeks, whilst others were surveyed by homelessness services.

“The report compares the demographics, history and type of homelessness, physical and mental health conditions and service utilisation. This study not only demonstrates that women sleeping rough differ demographically to both men sleeping rough and women not sleeping rough but that they are at higher risk of poorer physical and mental health outcomes and higher levels violence and exploitation on the streets. Of concern is that the conditions experienced by women sleeping rough are among the leading causes of poor health and mortality.”

The study highlighted that women sleeping rough are particularly vulnerable to morbidity and early mortality. This in turn translated to high service utilisation. The development of housing and support strategies targeted to the needs of women sleeping rough will not only provide cost savings to the health sector, but more importantly, provide a safe and secure home and positive life outcomes for the women involved.

Box, E., Flatau, P., & Lester, L. (2022). Women sleeping rough: The health, social and economic costs of homelessness. Health & Social Care in the Community, 00, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1111/hsc.13811