Royal Commission in Victoria, Australia Calls For Public Supported Housing

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A Royal Commission Into the Mental Health System in Victoria, Australia, has just issued its final report. In its two years of activity, the Commissioners received 12,500 submissions. The report makes 65 recommendations to reform the mental health system. Recommendation number 25 focuses on housing.

One individual who has experience of mental illness said to the Commission, “I don’t understand how you can have stable mental health if you don’t have stable housing.”  The Commissioners clearly agree with this statement. The final report identifies a deficit of supported housing as a key contributor to mental illness, hospital emergency visits, prolonged hospitalizations, incarceration and homelessness.

The Commission notes that living with mental illness may contribute to periods out of the workforce. It sees an adequate supply of non-market housing with flexible rental payments as a remedy. It welcomes the 2,000 units of supported housing planned by the Victorian government as part of its COVID recovery program. The commissioners also say that more units are needed and recommends an additional 500 homes with programming to provide transitional supported housing for young adults.

Supports are also a critical element of housing stability. The Commissioners envisage a framework that encompasses formal and informal supports. These range all the way from acute in-hospital care through to activities such as walking groups. The report also recommends support for, and from, family members. As well, it articulates a system to ensure that people are connected with supports and can receive additional care should/when illness become/s more severe.

The report includes case studies of current models that are working well. One resident describes how his life has turned around after moving to supported housing. He says, “I feel so fortunate to have been offered a place here.” The Commissioners aim their sights on a system where such fortune should be accorded to everyone who is living with mental illness.

The final report is in three volumes. Supported housing is discussed in the second volume, starting on page 395. The ideas in it will be of interest to advocates, decision makers and policy makers who are looking for examples of systems, structures and models for supportive housing. Read more here: Royal Commission Into Victoria’s Mental Health System

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