Data to assist Jewish House with services to the homeless and victims of domestic violence

August 4, 2020 by Rachel Phillips
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Sydney’s Jewish House is to take a data-led approach to its homeless and domestic violence support services.

Rabbi Mendel Kastel, sleeping bag and tomato soup prepares to experience a homeless sleepout

The not-for-profit studied 774 intake forms for its homelessness program filled out by victim-survivors of domestic violence. The analysis revealed demographic and clinical profiles which Jewish House has now used to refine its support services and make them more effective.

CEO of Jewish House Rabbi Mendel Kastel   said, “Anecdotally we’ve always known that our homeless and domestic abuse clients suffer from a range of other associated issues, but this data gave us a much clearer picture.”

The Jewish House study revealed that of the 774 victim-survivors of domestic violence who are homeless:

  1. 16.84% had children in their care;
  2. A significant amount were experiencing a range of severe to very severe mental health-related issues including;
    1. Depression (Males = 41.4% Females = 38.7%),
    2. Anxiety (Males = 48.3% Females = 43.5%),
    3. Stress (Males = 29.2% Females = 23.2%),
    4. Suicidal thoughts (Males = 20.7% Females = 23.02%); and
  3. A significant proportion were using or abusing illicit drugs (Males = 72.8% Females = 57.7%)

Rabbi Kastel said, “Through this type of data, we are continuing to reconstruct and refine our methods to better support families and individuals in crisis.”

Jewish House is now providing as part of its program for victim-survivors of domestic violence who are homeless:

  1. Education for mothers about the effects domestic violence has on children and protection techniques;
  2. Substance abuse counselling based on a motivational interviewing model; and
  3. Structured therapies for psychiatric pathologies such as depression, anxiety and PTSD.

Jewish House also revealed it is working on a tool that uses data to quantify “homelessness risk”.

Rabbi Kastel said, “In a world of growing homelessness and limited government funds, prevention is more effective and six times cheaper than rehabilitation,”

“We’re looking at how we can use data to identify at-risk people so we can stop them from becoming homeless in the first place.”

Rabbi Kastel urged the government to consider how it could use data to improve homelessness services. He said, “Through data, we can sharpen the pencil and make sure investment is getting the best outcome.”

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