Research to assist nation’s homeless population

20 AUGUST 2021

Research to assist nation’s homeless population

A Charles Sturt researcher has been granted more than $400,000 to create public policy for the use of public libraries for people experiencing homelessness.

  • Charles Sturt University academic receives $410,523 grant as part of Australian Research Council’s Discovery Early Research Career Awards
  • Dr Jane Garner’s three-year project will aim to build public policy frameworks to support people experiencing homelessness and their use of public libraries
  • The research will explore the relationship between people experiencing homelessness and public libraries in urban, regional and remote areas of Australia

A Charles Sturt University researcher has been awarded a grant to help people experiencing homelessness be better supported by public libraries.

Charles Sturt Lecturer with the School of Information and Communication Studies in Wagga Wagga Dr Jane Garner has been granted $410,523 as part of the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Early Research Career Awards.

The grant will fund Dr Garner’s three-year research project on strengthening policies and practices of public libraries to enable them to better support people experiencing homelessness in our communities.

Charles Sturt Interim Vice-Chancellor Professor John Germov congratulated Dr Garner on receiving the grant.

“Charles Sturt University continues to strive to deliver excellent outcomes in research and innovation,” he said.

“The grant awarded to Dr Garner is further proof of our focus on research which serves the needs of the community. Dr Garner has identified a gap in the industry and the outcomes of her research will have a meaningful impact in the real world.”

The aim of Dr Garner’s research is to build theoretical frameworks and public policy foundations to support the design of public library services, resources and environments to better meet the needs of Australians experiencing homelessness.

Dr Garner said public libraries are often visited by people experiencing homelessness for shelter, connection to others and access to resources and services, but there are currently no public policies to guide libraries in providing this support.

“The homeless community often turn to public libraries for information and relief from the hardships imposed upon them due to their housing situation,” she said.

Much has been publicised in the media about the relevance of libraries to homeless people, including a movie, The Public (2018), written, directed and starring US actor Emilio Estevez, but Dr Garner said there are still no public policies acknowledging or supporting this relationship.

Dr Garner realises findings may vary across different communities, so the research will be applied to three Australian contexts – urban, regional and remote.

The five main aims of the project are:

  • to understand the needs of the Australian homeless community that could be met by public libraries
  • to understand the attitudes and concerns of public library staff regarding people experiencing homelessness using libraries
  • to understand the attitudes of Australians experiencing homelessness regarding public libraries
  • to optimise the relationships between homelessness service agencies and public libraries
  • to build theoretical frameworks and public policy foundations to support these relationships
Media Note:

For more information or to arrange an interview with Dr Jane Garner, contact Nicole Barlow at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0429 217 026 or news@csu.edu.au.

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