There is increasing concern about family homelessness. Homeless mothers and their children are one of society’s most disadvantaged and at-risk populations. However, very little Australian research exploring mothers’ views on their homelessness experiences exists. Using semi-structured interviews with 14 mothers and four agency staff, this study explored homeless Australian mothers’ pathways into and out of homelessness, their specific needs and the services and supports that were (or would have been) most helpful. In this sample of single mothers and their children, early experiences of homelessness and domestic violence contributed most commonly to homelessness episodes. Almost immediate engagement with welfare agencies seemed to be protective against re-experiencing homelessness, however Australian restrictions on length of program involvement and limited housing options for mothers exiting homelessness programs, may place such mothers and their children at high risk of re-entering homelessness. Younger mothers had greater needs and benefited most from personalised one-on-one support that addressed key parenting and life skills. The implications of these findings are considered in relation to service delivery to this vulnerable group and avenues for future research are noted.
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