ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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An Ethnographic Study of Homeless Women in Brisbane: Fieldwork Experience

Helena Menih

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 3 - Law Building, Room 104
Date: 2012-07-12 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Last modified: 2011-12-22


This paper presents an exploratory study of female homelessness. Statistical information suggests that the numbers of homeless women are growing. Due to the increase of female homelessness Department of Housing, Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs published a White Paper where they emphasise two main aims. First, to halve homelessness by 2020 and second to offer supported accommodation to all rough sleepers who need it. A review of studies conducted on homelessness demonstrates the lack of research on female homelessness in Australia and indicates that the research that has been conducted tends to be gender-blind. Additionally, little is known about the experiences of, and the meaning attached to homelessness for women. Thus, a more in-depth understanding of why women become homeless and how they cope with homelessness is essential. In this paper I present some preliminary findings as well as some reflections on ‘doing’ ethnographic research with homeless women in Brisbane. Essentially, the findings confirm the importance of sensitive ethnographies to give voice to vulnerable urban ‘others’.