• Open Access

Factors associated with violent victimisation among homeless adults in Sydney, Australia


Correspondence to:
Sarah Larney, NDARC, University of NSW, Sydney NSW 2052. Fax: (02) 9385 0222; e-mail: s.larney@unsw.edu.au


Objective: To determine the prevalence and correlates of violent victimisation among homeless people in inner-Sydney.

Method: Cross-sectional design. Clients of a shelter for homeless, substance-using adults were interviewed about their drug use, mental health and violent victimisation in the previous 12 months. Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with victimisation.

Results: Participants reported complex drug use histories and high levels of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. Forty-eight per cent of participants reported past year victimisation. In univariate analyses, being female, schizophrenia/psychotic disorder, PTSD, depression and regular use of psychostimulants were associated with increased risk of victimisation. In multivariate analyses, regular use of psychostimulants (odds ratio [95% CI] 5.07 [1.53-16.84]), schizophrenia or other psychotic disorder (3.13 [1.24-7.9], and depression (2.65 [1.07-6.59]) were associated with increased risk of victimisation.

Conclusions and implications: This sample of homeless, substance-using adults experienced high levels of violence. People with poor mental health and regular psychostimulant users were at greater risk of victimisation. A longitudinal study to determine whether victimisation prolongs homelessness is warranted. Clinical staff working with homeless populations need to be aware of the likelihood of past and future victimisation and its effects on mental health. Homeless persons may benefit from learning to identify risk situations for victimisation and how to de-escalate potentially violent situations.