Australia’s health minister has said $3 million would go to mobile medical services for people experiencing homelessness, as part of a wider primary care budget announcement for at-risk people over the next 10 years.
In a statement on Thursday, Greg Hunt said not-for-profit Street Side Medics would receive extra government money to support its mobile van GP-led services.
“This funding will enable an extension of Street Side Medics’ capability and geographic reach to ensure more people have access to primary care,” the minister said.
Street Side Medics operates from a van to provide health examinations, diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, and produces and implements health care plans to people experiencing homelessness.
The services of the Sydney-based organisation are also supported by health care specialists providing cardiology, infectious diseases, gastroenterology, physiotherapy and podiatry services.
In Australia, young people, children subject to care and protection orders, Indigenous Australians and those over the age of 55 years tend to be at particular risk of homelessness. Women and children escaping family and domestic violence also face disproportionate risk.
“People who experience homelessness are at a significantly higher risk of poor health outcomes, including higher morbidity and mortality,” Hunt added.
More than 116,000 people of all ages experience homelessness nationwide – and the poorer health outcomes that come with that tend to also affect most socially and economically disadvantaged. Services like Street Side Medics offer these vulnerable groups access to primary health care where GP access is otherwise limited.