Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Squalor and hoarding – a secret epidemic in the spotlight

The first National Squalor Conference, being held in Sydney this week, aims to highlight the growing number of people living in squalor in Australia.

The conference will examine the links between squalor, hoarding, mental health issues and social isolation.

Confronting statistics collected by a number of agencies in relation to people living with compulsive hoarding and severe domestic squalor, emphasise the number of Australians living in squalor is far greater than previously thought.

Over 1 in 1,000 elderly people are thought to live in severe domestic squalor and of course it doesn’t just affect the elderly. Catholic Community Services has been working with a variety of agencies, including the RSPCA and the Fire Brigade, to address the complex issues of hoarding and squalor.

Catholic Community Services launched the pilot Severe Domestic Squalor project in Sydney 12 months ago to provide a central point of coordination for services. Since that time, the project has received 218 referrals from across Sydney...

...RSPCA NSW estimates that there are approximately 700 animal hoarders in NSW, owning an average of 30 animals each. There are potentially around 20,000 animals in the hands of animal hoarders in NSW alone. And the RSPCA sees approximately 200 new cases every year.

Animal hoarding results in extreme suffering, affecting large numbers of animals for prolonged periods. The extent of abuse, neglect and social deprivation is such that euthanasia is often the only practical option for many of the animals rescued from these situations,” says RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman.

Last year over 130 small dogs were seized from a property in the south of the state. Large seizures like this place enormous emotional and financial strain on the RSPCA.” Likewise, compulsive hoarding has become a huge concern for the Fire Brigade. “Hoarding represents an increased risk to the occupant, neighbours and responding firefighters in a fire..." More