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To raise awareness of pregnancy and homelessness, TaskForce Community Agency has sponsored the July 2022 edition of Parity, the magazine of the Council to Homeless Persons.

The edition – which was launched on 28 July by The Hon. Natalie Hutchins, Minister for Women, at the Uniting Vic.Tas Building, Lonsdale Street, Melbourne – is entirely focused on pregnancy and homelessness.

TaskForce Community Agency CEO Ray Blessing said:
“Lack of adequate research means that no one knows how many pregnant homeless women there are in Australia and the breadth of their needs..

“International data suggests that 20-to-25 per cent of homeless young women may be pregnant while homeless, a worrying statistic that likely masks an even greater percentage of at-risk women and their babies.”

“The risks pregnant homeless women and their children face cannot be underestimated, and the need for appropriate action is urgent and stark.

“As Parity magazine reminds us: Babies born to homeless women are at higher risk of birth complications, and longer-term medical complications are more prevalent among this group of children, including ongoing behavioural and emotional problems caused
by the effects of maternal stress in utero.”

“TaskForce Community Agency is proud to sponsor and contribute to the July 2022 edition of Parity to raise awareness among the public, policy makers and politicians about an issue that is all too often ignored.”

Dr Theresa Lynch, Convenor of the Pregnancy and Homelessness Network, said pregnancy was a key window of opportunity to help poor and vulnerable women turn their lives around.

“I have witnessed extensively the sufferings of vulnerable pregnant women and babies with their anguish born out of traumatic life experiences. Having a child is what motivates them to seek help for mental health issues or addiction, to leave an abusive relationship, or to deal with past trauma,” she said.

“Having stable housing is a crucial part of the equation. It not only helps the woman to live in a safer, healthier environment, it also means that their children are growing up in those environments. The benefits are intergenerational.”

The July edition of Parity was initiated by the Pregnancy and Homelessness Co-ordinating Network, which was created following research conducted in 2020 by Professor Suellen Murray of RMIT and her team.

The research found that a significant number of pregnant women who are homeless in Victoria were failing to receive adequate support from health and homeless service providers, despite over half of the women presenting with multiple needs including mental health, alcohol and drug and family violence.

The three articles contributed by TaskForce staff are:

  • Rachael Willet, Overdose Prevention Clinician at TaskForce, writing on Women, Homelessness and Gendered Stigma;
  • Lisa Abbott, Executive Manager, Social Impact and Growth at TaskForce, writing on Shifting the Narrative to Prevention: Supporting mothers who are Pregnant, Homeless and with Intersecting Needs; and
  • Megan Conway, Team Leader, Living Free Project, telling the story of a young mum and her son and their journey from homelessness to hope.

To access the latest issue, visit Parity Magazine’s website and explore the subscription options available.