RMIT experts available for comment on Homelessness Week

RMIT experts available for comment on Homelessness Week

Experts from RMIT University are available to talk about issues relating to homelessness, ahead of Homelessness Week (2–7 August).

Professor Guy Johnson (0419 545 305 or

Topics: homelessness, public housing, prevention

“Australia has some of the best data on homelessness in the world.

“We have strong evidence that most homeless people do not have mental health problems or substance misuse problems and that these issues are not the primary causes of homelessness.

“We also have evidence that most homeless people do not sleep rough or end up chronically mired in the homeless population.

“Despite this, these are the issues that politicians, policy makers and the media most often focus on, which means our policy responses have by and large dismissed the evidence that poverty and housing market conditions are the root causes of homelessness.

“There is no doubt that if we continue to pursue the same policy responses, the economic devastation created by the COVID-19 pandemic will see homelessness skyrocket to unprecedented levels and tens of thousands of unlucky Australians will have their first experience of homelessness.

“For many the experience will be deeply scarring. For some it will lead to their premature death.”

Professor Guy Johnson is the Director of the Unison Housing Research Lab at RMIT University and is Australia’s first professor of homelessness. Guy worked in homelessness services prior to working in academia. He has authored more than 60 publications on homelessness and housing instability.


Dr Meg Elkins (0410 323 057 or

Topics: older people’s homelessness, youth homelessness, accommodation types

“From our research into older people living with housing insecurity, we know family and friendship groups are important when experiencing high levels of housing insecurity.

“Among those older people, those who regularly churn through living with family and friends have a positive relationship with life satisfaction, compared to other cohorts.

“Individuals who find themselves in boarding house type accommodation may have arrived there from much worse accommodation.

“Most accommodation of this nature provides good access to allied health support and welfare support systems and heightened wellbeing.

“In these current circumstances, those who have recently been supported by hotel accommodation will be doing better or worse depending on the type of insecure accommodation they experienced before lockdown.”

Dr Meg Elkins is a senior lecturer in the School of Economics, Finance and Marketing at RMIT University and the Placemaking Economics Group. Her research interests include development and cultural economics, public policy evaluation, wellbeing and poverty.


Associate Professor Cameron Duff (0402 668 068 or

Topics: housing supports, coordinating care, homelessness, mental health

“Around the country, responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have exposed the vulnerabilities of people living in insecure housing.

“But we also know more than ever about the most effective ways of reducing these vulnerabilities.

“Targeted, coordinated responses between housing services, education and training supports, social care providers, and mental health and substance use treatment providers can make a significant difference in reducing the risk of homelessness.

“We already have examples of world-class homelessness programs. Now we need to make sure everyone who might benefit from these programs can access them when they need support.”

Cameron Duff is an Associate Professor in the School of Management at RMIT University. His research interests include the organisation and implementation of social care systems in the community and how complex care systems can be most effectively coordinated and integrated to provide better support to those in need.


Dr David Kelly (0401 796 808 or

Topics: public housing, urban renewal, displacement, social mix, homelessness

“The current housing policy settings, in both Australia and Victoria, have no capacity or potential to meet the needs of those who are currently experiencing homelessness, or who are becoming precariously housed due to the economic downturn. Instead, they suggest eradicating homelessness and increasing affordability are not the objectives.

“Public housing renewal programs are actively reducing the capacity of governments to introduce meaningful policies that meet current and emerging housing need.

“Public housing is the only tried and tested method for alleviating and eradicating homelessness.

“Housing first, without conditions and without the threat of eviction, is the only serious policy setting that aims to fix the homelessness issue, anything else is just creative misdirection.

“There is no housing supply issue in Australia, there is an affordability issue driven by the financialisaton of housing.”

Dr David Kelly is a Research Fellow in the RMIT Centre for Urban Research. David is a cultural geographer, who’s research interests include inner-city public housing, remote Indigenous housing and disability in the city.


For media enquiries, please contact RMIT Communications: 0439 704 077 or


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