Housing, homelessness and mental health: identifying policy levers for systems change

Stream: Housing and homelessness
Date: Monday, 9 September 2019
Time: 1.30 pm – 3.10 pm


The relationship between housing, homelessness and mental health is complex and bi-directional; secure, affordable and appropriate housing is key to mental health recovery and wellbeing. This research, undertaken in collaboration with the National Mental Health Commission, sought to identify the policy levers for better housing and services for people with lived experience of mental ill health. The analysed Australian state, territory and federal policies for housing and mental health; reviewed the effectiveness and key success factors of programs that integrate housing and mental health; and held two expert panels to identify options for systemic change for housing and mental health policy.

The research found that a lack of integration between housing, homelessness and mental health policy areas means that people often cannot access the housing and supports they need. While policies recognise the need for greater integration between housing and mental health, they rarely make systemic connections. Government silos and disparate funding arrangements impede the development of national, accountable, cross-sector policy solutions. While integrated programs for housing and mental health are effective, they do not meet demand for services, are often short term or are geographically restricted.

The points to a need to scale up and replicate existing successful programs that integrate housing and mental health supports; the need to develop a national framework for inter-agency and cross-sector collaboration that includes formal agreements and clear guaranties given by parties around outcomes; and opportunities to leverage existing reform frameworks for mental health to integrated housing related support at a national level.


Nicola Brackertz (Presenter), Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute
Nicola is a researcher with 20 years experience in the academic and not for profit sectors and has managed the professional services team of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute for the past 5 years. Nicola is interested in applied research in the areas of public policy, social justice and disadvantage, with a special focus on housing, homelessness and vulnerable populations.