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Vulnerable in society facing multiple healthcare barriers: survey

Financial insecurity and lack awareness of existing services are among the barriers vulnerable people face when it comes to accessing healthcare in Australia.

That’s a key message to come from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) research, which aimed to understand the key pressures felt by vulnerable people, including the socially excluded, the socio-economically disadvantaged and those with disabilities, and their reasons for not accessing healthcare.

The QUT team sought the views of frontline healthcare not-for-profit workers and partnered with The Salvation Army, Wesley Mission, Uniting Care Queensland and Micah Projects. The researchers found a lack of social and financial security was the most common barrier to accessing the health system. Lack of transport and of awareness of existing services also played roles.

Professor Ross Young, executive dean for the Faculty of Health at QUT, said the survey, which is part of the University’s Real Health Matters program, paints a compelling picture of the marginalisation many people in Australia face when it comes to considering their health needs.

“The barriers vulnerable people face relate to a range of complex health needs and face a range of difficulties, from homelessness and long term unemployment to domestic violence and drug dependency,” Young said. “As a society we need to improve the cost, availability and physical access to healthcare to ensure everyone in Australia has equal access, not just those with a postcode and a steady income.”

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