Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Health and Society


Much has been written about people who are homeless and homelessness in general. From non-government organisations right up to the top echelons of Local, State and Federal government there have been services and policies commenced in the attempt to end homelessness as an entity as well as alleviate the suffering endured. There are many reasons why a person becomes homeless: childhood trauma, financial stress, lack of social housing, relationship breakdown, alcohol abuse, mental illness, drug addiction, and, dare I say it, choice. The title of the research is: The narrative of being houseless - lived experiences of cave dwellers. The research presented to the reader in this study attempts to illustrate life experiences within a houseless community of cave dwellers in an isolated village along the Hawkesbury River in New South Wales. The focus of the study is one woman in particular, but it is her interactions with other people in the communities with which she communicates that is captured by the instruments of the research. It is the interpretation of these interactions that constitutes the lived experiences observed. The researcher has undertaken a qualitative study incorporating an ethnographic approach utilising a narrative inquiry design. The research bricolage included the use of formal and informal interviews, journal entries, direct observations, photographs and purposeful conversations. Whilst there are a myriad of articles and documents about the issue of homelessness, there remains surprises and more to learn - this research goes some way to increase understanding of the phenomenon. By exploring the experiences of the woman, great insight was obtained into her identity, and about her coping mechanisms and her attitude to her life in a cave. It was necessary to include a wide data input so that a more valid picture emerged.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.