Microdata for Waves 1 to 3 of Journeys Home are now available for the use of external researchers under a strict licensing process.
There are three types of data release: General, Limited and Overseas releases.
Approval is required from FaHCSIA and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations before access is provided.
The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, which is managing the study, is responsible for providing the data. Further information and application documents are available on the Institute's website.
The Wave 3 report is due around July 2013 and will also be published on the Australian Homelessness Clearinghouse.
Wave 4 interviews commenced in the field on 1 March 2013 were completed at the end of May. The final report, with findings from all four waves is due in December 2013. All dates may be subject to change.
As part of the National Homelessness Research Agenda 2009-2013, the Australian Government is funding Journeys Home: Longitudinal Study of Factors Affecting Housing Stability which aims to improve the understanding of, and policy response to, the diverse social, economic and personal factors related to homelessness and the risk of becoming homeless.
Journeys Home is the first large-scale longitudinal study of its type in Australia. The survey consists of six waves, each six months apart, from September 2011 to the first half of 2014.
The research combines de-identified longitudinal information held by the Department of Human Services with a sample survey of approximately 1,600 income support recipients across Australia. It includes people identified as homeless; at risk of homelessness or vulnerable to homelessness.
Income support recipients were randomly selected and invited to take part on the understanding that participation is entirely voluntary. Respondents are reminded during the interview that they can choose not to answer any particular question if they wish. The survey has been designed to ensure participants’ privacy.
The project received full ethics approval from the University of Melbourne’s Behavioural and Social Sciences Human Ethics Committee and complies with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.
The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (MI) has been contracted by the Department to design the content of the study and the preparation of research and statistical reports. MI has sub-contracted Roy Morgan Research to conduct the surveys in the field. Other Journeys Home partners are the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and the Department of Human Services.
What is the purpose of the study?
The study collects important information on homelessness, covering areas such as:
- personal circumstances – participants’ physical and mental health; participation in the workplace, employment, education and training and any significant life events
- family circumstances – participants’ family status and living arrangements, support networks and experiences of domestic and family violence
- housing circumstances – participants’ housing situation; the periods, nature of, and reasons for, homelessness; and trajectories and tipping points of moving into and out of homelessness
- use of support services – types of assistance sought and used, including health care and support services.
The evidence will assist the Government to target investments in homelessness support programs and will inform other policy development in this field.
What are some of the research questions guiding the study?
- What characteristics are associated with people identified as homeless or at risk of homelessness?
- What is the length of time that people in the study experience homelessness, including multiple episodes of homelessness?
- What factors are associated with instability/stability in housing tenancy or occupancy, including over time?
- What characteristics distinguish people who become homeless from those in similar circumstances who do not?
- What are some key intervention points to prevent homelessness and chronic homelessness?
- What are the factors that are important in the road out of homelessness?
Progress to date
A pilot study from 29 April 2011 until 31 May 2011 surveyed 151 participants across six sites in New South Wales and Victoria. It tested the participant contact process, the validity of the survey questions and operations in the field.
Wave 1 fieldwork commenced in September 2011 and was completed in mid-November 2011. To enhance Indigenous engagement and the capacity of the fieldworkers to act in a culturally appropriate way, the Northern Land Council and the Larrakia Nation provided support and advice to interviewers in the Northern Territory. .
There were 1682 completed interviews in Wave 1, with a higher response rate amongst women, the young and older cohorts. Some of the key findings include:
- Ninety per cent of participants had been homeless at some stage in their lives, and 51 per cent of participants had been homeless in the past six months.
- The most common reason for first becoming homeless was family breakdown and/or conflict.
- Only seven per cent reported mental illness and ten per cent substance abuse as major factors leading to their first homeless experience.
- Seventy-one per cent of those homeless for a total of four years or more in their lifetime had been diagnosed with at least one of the five mental illnesses listed in the survey.
- Half the participants first experienced homelessness while aged under 18 years and just under three quarters before they turned 25.
- People who first experience homelessness at a young age are more likely to experience persistent homelessness.
- A third of those who first experienced homelessness under the age of 15 spent a total of four years or more homelessness during their lifetimes.
To access the report, visit the Australian Homelessness Clearinghouse website.
Wave 2 fieldwork ran between March 2012 and May 2012. The re-interview rate was high - around 90 per cent.
The Wave 2 research report, which analyses the results of both Waves 1 and 2, has been published and is available at the Australian Homelessness Clearinghouse website.
Some of the key findings include:
- The nature of homelessness
- Homelessness tends to be a fluid, transitional state; housing situations vary considerably over time, with people cycling through stable, unstable and homeless conditions.
- Risk and protective factors associated with homelessness
- The highest level of residential instability is for respondents who have been in state care, juvenile or other correctional facilities or medical institutions.
- Physical health and labour market activity have strong connections to people moving in and out of homelessness; people with greater connection to the labour market have the best housing outcomes, while those who are homeless have poorer physical health.
- Ties with family and friends diminish when people become homeless and the longer they remain that way. Although stronger ties with family were shown to assist people out of homelessness, weak family ties do not seem to be associated with entering homelessness.
- A profile of the homeless
- Homeless respondents were more likely to be male, drink at risky levels, use illicit drugs, have poorer physical and mental health and have had been in state care, juvenile justice or other correctional facilities.
Wave 3 interviews ran from September to November 2012. The re-interview rate was also around 90 per cent.
For more information contact FaHCSIA Journeys Home project team email@example.com.
The project team also maintains a stakeholder list for persons or organisations interested in periodic updates on the project. To be added to this list, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updates on this webpage will be made from time to time as the study progresses.
The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, which manages the study, also has information on its website.