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Critical data gathered during Homeless Registry Week

On a chilly June winter morning, Dr Robyn Martin, Senior Lecturer School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, joined a group of volunteer researchers to conduct a survey on homelessness and sleeping rough on the streets of Fremantle.

The research project, part of Homeless Registry Week, entailed walking the streets of the port city from 4.00 am to 6.30 am, and inviting homeless people to participate in a survey that measures physical and psychological vulnerability. It was the first time the validated, international survey, the Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool, was conducted in Fremantle.

Dr Robyn Martin prepares to walk the streets of Fremantle.
Dr Robyn Martin prepares to walk the streets of Fremantle.

The survey provides information to homelessness agencies, and informs their response to vulnerable and at risk people. The number of participants is still being tallied, although 58 people were surveyed on the first of the two mornings.

Dr Martin said she was humbled by the generosity of survey participants, who openly shared responses, but she was also troubled by the number of highly vulnerable people who were sleeping rough.

Participating in these activities is an extension of research work Dr Martin is doing with Dr Tina Fernandes, Lecturer, School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, on the experience of people who spend time in public spaces in Fremantle and Perth. This research has been conducted in partnership with the Aboriginal Alcohol and Drug Service, St Patrick’s Community Support Service, Nyoongar Outreach Service, 360 Health and Community and Derbarl Yerrigan. Outreach workers from these services have conducted interviews with people in the parks and public spaces, and the research design, implementation and reporting have been developed collaboratively between the Curtin researchers and these organisations.