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Supporting Homeless and Vulnerable Populations: Home

Topic Guide designed to support St Vincent's Hospital Health Independence Program (HIP) staff to help improve the quality of life for marginalised people, who are often the most vulnerable in our community.

St Vincent Hospital's Committment to Care

This LibGuide is designed to support St Vincent's Hospital Health Independence Program (HIP) staff to help improve the quality of life for marginalised people, who are often the most vulnerable in our community.

In line with its Mission,Values and Vision, St Vincent's Health Australia reaches out to some of the most vulnerable people in the Australian community, including those living with mental illness, experiencing addiction, people who are socially and financially disadvantaged, and particularly those experiencing homelessness. St Vincent's commitment to the most vulnerable and marginalised people in our community, is demonstrated by the provision of compassionate and innovative care, enabling hope for those served. 

St Vincent's Health Independence Program delivers a coordinated, integrated and interdisciplinary health and support service with a single plan of care. Clients are enabled to be the decision makers of their care, whilst being supported through self-management to achieve their healthcare goals. This accessible program is well recognised and strongly linked to the local community and service sector. This approach enhances the client experience and improves their health, wellbeing and independence.

COVID-19: St Vincent Hospital's Inclusive Health Program continues to monitor the situation for vulnerable groups and is working to support our health services at the front lines. 

St Vincent’s Mobile Immunisation Outreach Program ensures that vulnerable Melburnians are protected against COVID-19  

In partnership with the Burnett Institute, Salvation Army and Bolton Clarke Homeless Persons 
Program, St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne has extended its mobile immunisation outreach program to provide Melburnians experiencing homelessness with access to COVID-19 vaccinations. 

St Vincent's nurses travel with a social worker to sites across metro Melbourne every week in a fully equipped and COVID-safe van. This included visits to Salvation Army Project 614 and Flagstaff locations last week. See the full coverage on ABC News:


Featured online articles available via SVHM Library

Australian Focus

COVID-19 Related 

Emergency Department

Health Services

Mental Health

Primary Care


Homeless, vulnerable & marginalised people need our help

Poverty has been around as a feature of societies for a long time. Maybe this is the reason that it seems to be merely accepted as "the way things are" in public discourse.

In Australia, three million people including one in six children live in economic poverty. Yet, the weight of these numbers doesn't seem to translate to urgent action by governments to address the issue. This may be because there is fatigue from hearing about the issue so often, a disbelief that poverty actually exists, or a lack of empathy for those living in poverty.  Adapted from:

As part of St Vincent's Hospital's enVision2025 focus on five populations who live in poverty and with vulnerability, there is a renewed committment to help: the homeless, those who are marginalised because of mental health conditions, the drug and alcohol addicted and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people and people in prisons, .
"There is an opportunity of seeing something greater in the years ahead by growing this mission".




Recent reports

Print books held in the Carl de Gruchy Library

Definition of "Homeless"

 Chamberlain and Mackenzie's "cultural definition" identifies assumed shared community standards about the minimum housing that people have the right to expect, in order to live according to the conventions and expectations of a particular culture. The definition identifies those groups that fall below the minimum community standard. 

The minimum community standard is a small rental flat - with a bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom and an element of security of tenure - because that is the minimum that most people achieve in the private rental market. However, the minimum is significantly below the culturally desired option of an owner-occupied house.
While it is true that the concepts of 'housed' and 'homeless' constitute a continuum of circumstances, there are three situations that fall below the community standard. This leads to the identification of 'primary', 'secondary' and 'tertiary' homelessness and the 'marginally housed'. (Chamberlain and Mackenzie, 1992, p.291). Taken from the ABS website:


Primary homelessness describes the situation of all people without conventional accommodation, such as people living on the streets, sleeping in parks, squatting in derelict buildings, living in improvised dwellings (such as sheds, garages or cabins), and using cars or railway carriages for temporary shelter. Secondary homelessness describes the situation of people who move frequently from one form of temporary shelter to another. On census night, all people staying in emergency or transitional accommodation provided under the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) are considered part of this category. Secondary homelessness also includes people residing temporarily with other households because they have no accommodation of their own, and people staying in boarding houses on a short-term basis, operationally defined as 12 weeks or less.Tertiary homelessness describes the situation of people who live in boarding houses on a medium to long-term basis, operationally defined as 13 weeks or longer. Residents of private boarding houses are homeless because their accommodation does not have the characteristics identified in the minimum community standard (Chamberlain and MacKenzie 1992): they do not have a separate bedroom and living room; they do not have kitchen and bathroom facilities of their own; their accommodation is not self-contained; and they do not have security of tenure provided by a lease. Taken from:


Blogs, podcasts & online forums

How we can help vulnerable populations: Donate, get involved, advocate, support...

The Big Issue is a not-for-profit social enterprise that develops solutions to help homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people positively change their lives.



With 49,017 women homeless in Australia every night, The Big Issue are asking corporate Australia to help them provide vulnerable women with a brighter future

Corporate partnerships are available with the Women's Subscription Enterprise for organisations interested in buying multiple subscriptions to The Big Issue. As well as receiving a great read, your organisation will receive a range of benefits.

For corporate subscription enquiries, contact Simone Busija at The Big or 9663 4533.




Homelessness in Australia

Homelessness Week 2-8 August 2020

This year the theme for Homelessness Week (#HW2020) is Everybody Needs a Home.  
A series of activities are planned in partnership with the Everybody's Home campaign​​​​​​

#HW2020 #BuildSocialHousing  @_EverybodysHome  @HomelessnessAus

Like to keep up with the latest articles on this topic?

St Vincent's Hospital Library staff (Melbourne) can set up a current awareness Alert in order for staff to automatically receive the latest articles on a particular topic. Please contact the Library for more information.

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Phone: 9231 2540

Carl de Gruchy Library
Ground floor, Clinical Sciences Building
29 Regent Street, Fitzroy, Vic, 3065

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