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In June last year, the biennial Street Count of rough-sleepers confirmed what was obvious to many who live or work in the Melbourne CBD – the number of homeless people has risen astronomically. Official Street Count figures showed an unprecedented increase of 74 per cent since the previous tally.

This figure accounts for the most visible kind of homeless person. More difficult to quantify are the ‘hidden homeless’. The people who couch-surf, live in cars or stay in dangerous or improvised forms of temporary accommodation – largely out of sight and out of mind.

How do we apply targeted solutions for homeless people with different needs? What is the relationship between homelessness and gentrification? How does media coverage stigmatise and entrench homelessness? What is the ‘Housing First’ theory and how does it work? In a full hour of audience Q&A, we’ll delve into some complex problems that demand urgent solutions.


Madeleine Morris

Madeleine Morris is a Melbourne-based reporter for ABC television’s 7.30. She was formerly a presenter for the BBC in London and reported from dozens of countries before returning to her native Australia. She is the author of Guilt-Free Bottle-Feeding: Why Your Formula-Fed Baby Can Grow ... Read more

Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith has had a long and distinguished career in the public sector and has well over 20 years of experience in leadership and management. She has worked in policy, management, government and in service delivery, and in health, mental health, and community health sectors. Jenny joined the ... Read more


Erika, 57, has worked in various occupations, including as an aged care worker. When she lost her employment some years ago, she became homeless, sleeping rough on the streets of St Kilda in Melbourne and then moving into precarious accommodation in a private rooming house. Today she lives in public... Read more

Michael Perusco

Michael Perusco was appointed Chief Executive of Yarra Community Housing (YCH) in October 2015. YCH recently merged with Urban Communities Limited and is Victoria’s largest provider of community housing. YCH has a particular focus on housing people with a history of homelessness and disadvantage. ... Read more

Lucy Adams

Lucy Adams is the manager and principal lawyer of Justice Connect Homeless Law, a specialist legal service for Victorians who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. In 2013, Lucy undertook a Churchill Fellowship, travelling to nine international cities and speaking with 60 experts about homelessne... Read more


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176 Little Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.