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Data from the hostel’s health clinic shows those experiencing homelessness are dying at an average age of 55.9 (Facebook/Sisters of Soul)

A St Vincent de Paul Society homelessness service, one of Sydney’s largest, says its client data shows the city’s rough sleepers are dying at “alarmingly” premature rates, particularly those with schizophrenia. Source: The Guardian.

Matthew Talbot Hostel, based in the inner-city suburb of Woolloomooloo, said data from about 4000 patients attending its health clinic shows those experiencing homelessness are dying at an average age of 55.9.

For those diagnosed with schizophrenia, the average age was even lower, at 52 years.

The data, captured as part of a study last year, is further evidence of a disturbing life expectancy gap between those experiencing homelessness and the general population in Australia.

The clinic manager at the Matthew Talbot Hostel, Julie Smith, has worked in homelessness health since 1990. She has not seen a significant change in the age of death of those experiencing homelessness in that time.

“We have been aware that homeless people die 25 to 30 years younger – we’ve known forever that they die prematurely, and they die, in many cases, of preventable illness, due to their circumstances,” Ms Smith said.

She said it was “extraordinary” such deaths persisted in a country as rich as Australia.

“Sydney is an extremely wealthy, western-style society, and I find it really difficult to grapple with the knowledge that there are so many disadvantaged people living on the streets, living in incredibly substandard housing, and without protection.

“Their vulnerabilities mean they require protection, and they require targeted services and they require specific types of housing and care in many places. It’s shocking – the number of people with schizophrenia that we allow to remain homeless.”

Emeritus Professor Ian Webster, a physician who worked for more than 40 years with people who have experienced homelessness, said the average life expectancy had not changed since his time in the field.


Rough sleepers dying ‘alarmingly’ premature deaths, Sydney homeless data shows (By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian)