Degree Name

Master of Science (Hons.)


Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences


Housing has been identified as a crucial component of recovery from mental illness yet very little research has been undertaken in rural areas that compares the housing circumstances of mentally ill populations with that of the community at large. Similarly, there have been a large number of studies of homeless people with mental illness but relatively few that examine factors that may be used to predict housing instability. The aims of the present study were to address both of these issues. Firstly, the study compares the housing characteristics of individuals being managed by a rural mental health service with those of the Australian population. Secondly, it explores the extent the factors satisfaction, quality and choice of housing predict different measures of housing instability. The survey and structured interview was based on the 1994 Australian Housing Survey and the Boarding House Survey developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The survey was administered to a sample of 101 individuals being managed by a rural mental health service in a community and an acute inpatient setting. The results suggested that respondents generally had adequate access to community services and social supports. However, the study group was four times over represented in the lowest income quintile with over three-quarters of respondents reliant on some form of government benefit and less than 8% in fulltime employment. The low income of respondents appeared to be reflected in the type of dwelling occupied which, when compared with other Australians, was less likely to be a separate house and more likely to be a semi-detached house, flat or boarding house. Rates of housing stability of respondents varied widely according to the definition of stability or instabihty used. In terms of the prediction of housing instability the measures of satisfaction, quality and choice and predict stability well but not instability. The imphcations of these findings for clinical practice are discussed together with recommendations for future research.