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Study To Reveal How Homeless Can Prepare For Extreme Weather

There are currently 105,237 Australians who are homeless.

16/05/2016 8:43 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST
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Australian researchers are analysing how people experiencing homelessness can be better prepared for extreme weather conditions and natural disasters.

Dr Danielle Every, Central Queensland University researcher, said an emerging amount of research from the United States revealed that those facing homelessness during periods of wild weather and natural disasters have high fatality rates, are less likely to be notified about weather conditions and take a greater amount of time to recover.

When people are sleeping rough, we fear their lives. It's very dangerous.

"We are interested in how experiencing homelessness affects people's perception of, preparation for and response to natural disasters, and how natural hazards affect the wellbeing of homeless individuals and families," Every said.

There are currently 105,237 people in Australia who are homeless, nearly 20,000 of whom are under the age of 12.

Every said the research hopes to uncover how homelessness affects the way people both perceive and respond to natural hazards, as well as how these hazards affect the wellbeing of homeless individuals and families.

"We seek to find out how their vulnerability and resilience is shaped by different experiences of homelessness -- such as rough sleeping, couch-surfing, vulnerable renting -- across various social conditions," Every said.

Every said it is paramount to find out what is currently being done by service providers to help people experiencing homelessness prepare for and respond to potential natural disasters.

Chair of Homelessness Australia, Jenny Smith, said the study will explore the risks associated with sleeping in unsuitable accommodation in extreme circumstances.

"When people are sleeping rough, we fear their lives. It's very dangerous," Smith told The Huffington Post Australia.

Tim Wimborne / Reuters
There are 105,237 Australians who are homeless.

"People who are homeless are in grave danger of assault and injury, but when weather conditions or environmental conditions are extreme, the risk to life and wellbeing in the short and long-term is even higher."

Smith said Homelessness Australia have seen some positive climate interventions put in place by municipalities for individuals facing homelessness.

"During heat waves, the City of Melbourne give out movie tickets and swimming pool passes and make sure people know where water fountains and shaded areas are," Smith said.

The impact of natural disasters means even more people become homeless, Smith pointed out.

"Fires, earthquakes and floods impact on the levels of homelessness. People who were housed previously are added to the population looking for temporary accommodation.

"It's putting pressure on an already untenable situation," Smith said.

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