Homeless but not Hopeless – How Can We Deliver Healthcare to Society’s Most Vulnerable?


If you’ve ever walked through the streets of Melbourne’s CBD, you have probably witnessed some degree of homelessness. It is a reality that can befall anyone who faces the right circumstances, such as income loss, illness, or violence. When you have no roof over your head, you face a very unique set of healthcare needs that deserve to be addressed. As future doctors, we have a pivotal role in enabling the most vulnerable members of our society to access the basic human right to quality healthcare. Youth Projects is a not-for-profit organisation doing just that – connecting disadvantaged people with the services they need to get back on their feet. In this session we hear first-hand accounts from experienced doctors and nurses making real changes on the ground, and from a patient with lived experience – a rare insight into what it’s really like to sleep rough in Melbourne. This is a steadily growing societal issue that we can’t ignore. If you’ve ever passed by an individual experiencing homelessness and wondered, even for a second, how you can help – this session is for you.


Ms Melanie Raymond OAM

Melanie is the Chairperson at Youth Projects, among many other leadership positions including a member of both the Victorian Premier’s Ice Taskforce and Taskforce on Rough Sleeping, and Chair of the philanthropic fund ‘Connected Communities Melbourne’. She is a former Chair of the Victorian Prostitution Control Council and Victorian Liquor Licensing Council, a former member of the City of Melbourne’s Homelessness Advisory Committee, a former Director of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, and has served as an elected councillor. Melanie was named one of Australia’s Top 100 Most Influential Women by the Westpac & Australian Financial Review, among several other prestigious accolades, and in 2017 was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to youth, social justice and the community.

Dr Ed Poliness

Dr Ed Poliness has delivered GP services at the Living Room Primary Health Service at Youth Projects for the past 7 years and has extensive experience in the delivery of holistic health care to vulnerable populations including indigenous people and those that are experiencing homelessness. Ed is Chair of the GPME Education Committee and has trained numerous medical students through placements and projects working with high-risk populations.




Ms Bernadette Mulcahy

Bernadette Mulcahy has worked with Youth Projects as an outreach nurse since 2014. Night Nurses provide early intervention health care directly on the pavement, in laneways and under bridges on foot. This service addresses immediate and primary care needs, including health and social assessments, professional nursing care, counselling, first aid, medication management, and follow up to clients.

Mr Adam

Adam is a former client of the Living Room and continues to work with Youth Projects to tell his story and experience of being homeless in Melbourne’s CBD.  Adam brings a powerful perspective to the work of the Living Room and regularly speaks to student groups and members of the public about his journey and the importance of listening to the voices of those with a lived experience.