How hoarding could be doing you damage
Hoarders have been warned they can face health risks. Photo: Armelle Habib
About one million Australians face problems associated with hoarding and squalor, a Brisbane forum has been told.
New figures suggest hoarding is on the rise across the nation and its effects can be devastating, from evictions and homelessness to ill health and neighbourhood disputes.
The forum was shown images of homes metres deep in piles of items residents were unable to part with.
University of NSW psychologist and hoarding expert Jessica Grisham said it was originally estimated that about one per cent of the Australian population faced hoarding-related issues.
But current estimates put the figure as high as five per cent, Dr Grisham said.
She said hoarding was now deemed a separate mental disorder, not a sub-classification of obsessive compulsive disorder.
Hoarders often started in their teens but others began hoarding after traumatic experiences, such as divorce, later in life, Dr Grisham said.
There's also evidence to show hoarding can run in families.
Brisbane City councillor Krista Adams told the forum the issue of hoarding and squalor had not been well recognised and dealt with in Brisbane.
"This is a problem which confronts one million Australians and it is a priority for the (Brisbane City) council," she said.
The council was often involved in neighbourhood disputes and forced clean-ups of properties, which were expensive, Ms Adams said.
Centacare Brisbane community support director Kerri Lancaster said the forum aimed to increase awareness about hoarding and squalor and share the best ways of dealing with it.
"Hoarding and squalor is a severe issue in Queensland affecting not only the people living in such environments, but also their families, carers, neighbourhoods and communities," she said.
The forum continues on Tuesday.
Poll: Are you a hoarder?
- Definitely, I can't bear to part with things
- Not quite, but I could probably use a good spring clean
- I'm not, but my partner is
- No, I prefer not to be weighed down with stuff
Total votes: 5410.
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