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The St George’s Cathedral bell tolled 107 times on Wednesday 21 June to honour the memory of the 107 people who were homeless or had previously experienced homelessness and lost their lives in Western Australia in 2022.

The date for the event was chosen to coincide with the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, representing the harsh conditions faced by people experiencing homelessness and sleeping rough on Perth’s streets.

An initiative of St Bart’s, we hope to make this homelessness memorial an annual event to remember the forgotten deaths of vulnerable people who pass away after experiencing homelessness, many with no-one to mourn their loss.

The shocking 2022 statistics were revealed in March this year by the Home2Health team within the Institute for Health Research at the University of Notre Dame. As part of the team’s wider research on the health impacts of homelessness, since 2017 they have been tracking and verifying deaths among people who have experienced homelessness in Perth.  All reported deaths have been verified through two or more reliable sources.

“Most sobering of all”, said Professor Lisa Wood of Home2Health “is the fact that the average age of death of those who died in 2022 was only 50. That’s three decades younger than anyone else in Australia can expect to live.”

“Congruent with international studies on homeless mortality, both current and prior homelessness is a risk factor for premature death, as homelessness takes an enormous toll on people’s health. The longer people remain homeless, the more their health deteriorates,” said Professor Wood.

St Bart’s CEO Samantha Drury said that for many of the 107 deaths remembered tomorrow this will be their only commemoration. “Sadly, the cold winter months are especially difficult if you’re vulnerable, experiencing homelessness or living on the streets and it is a time when many lives are lost prematurely. The memorial at St George’s Cathedral will give the community an opportunity to remember lives lost and will hopefully draw attention to the need to do more to end chronic homelessness and rough sleeping in Western Australia.”

St George’s Cathedral in the City burnt a candle in memorial throughout the day on Wednesday 21 June and a prayer station was set up for personal devotion. The bell tolled during the morning Eucharist prayers which were dedicated to the 107 lives lost.

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