Preventing homelessness for mature women with QUT BEST practice

17 February 2020

There are more than 85,000 homeless women in Australia with many fleeing domestic violence or experiencing extreme poverty. QUT researchers are working with these women and the Department of Housing and Public Works to tackle this critical problem.

In a new approach, QUT researchers and partners will develop a first responders’ tool kit that includes time-sensitive information to help prevent and reduce the number of mature women experiencing homelessness.

The project “High tech vs high touch support: Preventing homelessness for mature women” is led by social marketing researcher Professor Rebekah Russell-Bennett, Acting Director, Centre for Behavioural Economics, Society and Technology (QUT BEST Centre) in the School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations.

“Prevention is such an important part for the overall approach to homelessness and we want to support women before the situation becomes a crisis for them.

“There is an urgent need to address this hidden issue of homelessness and early support is critical to preventing this problem from escalating.”

“Our project will use co-design techniques to develop and pilot test a toolkit that protects women’s dignity by supporting them early—it will be designed by and for the women at risk,” Professor Russell-Bennett said.

The industry collaboration emerged from a teaching relationship between QUT’s School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations, Mission Australia and PwC where students designed innovation service or product prototypes and pitched to industry partners.

“Homelessness is a problem for the whole community and this project involves organisations who traditionally see the problem but can’t easily help. When organisations spot warning signs of homelessness, our project will deliver the means to help first responders and women at risk,” Professor Russell-Bennett said.

“Innovation comes from doing things differently and this multidisciplinary approach will produce a unique outcome. Wicked problems like homelessness require a combination of bright minds from diverse fields to work together.”

QUT researchers include Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Kate Letheren (BEST Centre), Professor Melissa Bull (School of Justice) and Senior Lecturer Dr Jinglan Zhang (School Computer Science).

QUT’s BEST Centre successfully secured the funding under the Dignity First Fund by the Department of Housing and Public Works which provides one-off funding to support new and innovative ideas from non-government providers that help deliver a range of essential services that make a real difference for people in our community who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The project is supported by partners from the Department of Housing and Public Works, PwC, Mission Australia, Q-Shelter and Tenants Queensland.

More about the project can be found here:

For more information contact:

Professor Rebekah Russell-Bennett


This article has been republished from QUT Media.


QUT Media contacts:

Niki Widdowson, 07 3138 2999 or

After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901 or