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"Are we moving again this week?" Children's experiences of homelessness in Victoria, Australia

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  • Kirkman, Maggie
  • Keys, Deborah
  • Bodzak, Daria
  • Turner, Alina

Abstract

This research aimed to gain insight into the homelessness experience of children accommodated in transitional support services in an urban setting in Australia. It joins a limited international literature. Interviews incorporating interactive activities were conducted with 20 children aged 6-12 from diverse ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, most of whom were living in supported accommodation. Twelve parents/guardians were also interviewed. Children had experienced between 3 and 11 changes of residence, including hotels or motels, refuges, sleeping rough or in cars, rooming or boarding houses, and caravan parks. It was evident that homelessness adversely affected children's sense of security, mood, behaviour, physical health, education, and overall experience of childhood. As families moved from one temporary accommodation to the next, they often lost touch with the extended family and their friends, became disconnected from any sense of community, and did without familiar possessions, treasures, toys, and pets. Experiencing chaotic sequences of accommodation could leave children feeling confused, insecure, sad, and angry. It could make children feel responsible for their discouraged and unwell parents and their younger siblings. Homelessness made many children expect instability as a way of life. Children continued to be affected by problems that preceded or precipitated homelessness, such as family violence, broken relationships, and parents grappling with drug and alcohol dependence. The overwhelming conclusion to be drawn from this research is that children affected by homelessness need security, stability, and the chance to become and remain part of a community.

Suggested Citation

  • Kirkman, Maggie & Keys, Deborah & Bodzak, Daria & Turner, Alina, 2010. ""Are we moving again this week?" Children's experiences of homelessness in Victoria, Australia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(7), pages 994-1001, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:70:y:2010:i:7:p:994-1001
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    1. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1994:84:2:260-264_1 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2005.070482_3 is not listed on IDEAS
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