Australia’s first national conference devoted to severe domestic squalor will be held in Sydney in November.

The two-day event is being run by Catholic Community Services which has played an integral role in the development of services for people living in squalor.

In 2007 the organisation worked with the University of Sydney’s Professor John Snowdon on the development of the NSW Squalor Guidelines.

For the past 10 months it has been providing a case managed squalor service with funding from the state’s Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care.

“We want to share the information that we have been able to gain through that funding,” said the Service Manager for Homeless and Housing Support, Emma Knowles.

Ms Knowles says squalor tends to be overlooked on a large scale because no single organisation can provide a solution.

“It is extremely complex to provide interventions and have effective practices in place because it requires input from health and housing as major players, as well as a vast array of other services, such as forensic cleaners, local government and the RSPCA. And that’s just to bring about one effective intervention.”

“But this funding has enabled us to create a collaborative approach by having one independent referral person who can provide a comprehensive assessment. From there they can design an intervention package by drawing all the services together and that is extremely important.”

Another difficulty is that about nine in ten people living with severe domestic squalor have a reduced cognitive capacity and resist assistance.

The conference will aim to bring a greater focus to the issues surrounding squalor while investigating new ways to provide support.

It will focus is on long-term interventions by exploring the experiences of people living under a number of themes including social isolation, sustainable housing and the collective impact.

The conference will be held at the SMC Conference Centre in Sydney from 5-6 November.

Click here for more details about the conference.

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