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Homelessness and the Law

Homelessness and the Law

By Dr Tamara Walsh


Homeless people want to be treated with dignity and respect: by the law, by the community, by government systems and by individuals. The reality is that they instead face constant discrimination, rejection and exclusion.

The law perpetuates this sense of exclusion. Terms such as ‘public nuisance’, ‘offensive’, ‘anti-social’, ‘causing anxiety’, ‘causing an obstruction’, ‘move-on’ are all found in criminal laws that the homeless are disproportionately prosecuted under.

This book explores the many ways in which laws in Australia, at federal, State and Territory level, operate to cause or perpetuate homelessness, as well as how the law might be used to address the causes and consequences of homelessness.

Dr Tamara Walsh examines legal conceptions of home and ‘homelessness’ and legal responses to them; law and order approaches to homelessness including offences and defences; social welfare law; impairment, disability and capacity in relation to decision making; discrimination and access to justice, and homelessness and human rights.


Legal Conceptions of ‘Home’ and ‘Homelessness’
Legal Responses to ‘Houselessness’
Law and Order Approaches to Homelessness: Offences and Defences
Social Welfare Law: Income, Family and the ‘Home’
Impairment, Disability and Incapacity: Decision-Making and Homelessness
Homelessness and Inequality: Discrimination and Access to Justice
Homelessness as a Violation of Human Rights
Concluding Remarks
Table 1 - Social Housing Law by Jurisdiction
Table 2 - Mental Health Law by Jurisdiction
Table 3 - Guardianship Law by Jurisdiction



Tamara Walsh’s comprehensive, insightful and rigorous examination of the fraught intersection between homelessness and the Australian legal system is, as she says, the culmination of many years of research...
Dr Walsh’s book Homelessness and the Law powerfully demonstrates the potential for the law to improve one of Australia’s gravest, if largely hidden, social problems. At the same time, it demonstrates the limitations on what can be achieved through the legal system. It is a book worthy of close study not only by lawyers interested in social justice, but by anyone troubled about one of the most serious manifestations of inequality in Australian society.

Justice Ronald Sackville, from the Foreword


Foreword by Justice Ronald Sackville


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Published 1 June 2011
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781862878143
Australian RRP $49.95
International Price $45.00
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Law - Social Welfare Law

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