A lucky break and a new home

November 28, 2022

After years of homelessness, John* is finally in a place of his own.

This would not have been possible without a specialist assessment facilitated by the Haymarket Foundation: he had difficulties communicating and had a complex history, including schizophrenia.

In this case, the neuropsychological assessment proved John did have a cognitive impairment:  and provided evidence for housing, access to a Disability Support Pension, and a larger support package with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Neuropsychological assessments:

These assessments are complex pieces of work, carried out over a period of several hours, by experts who diagnose suspected cognitive impairments.

They cost several thousand dollars privately – and while they are available in the public hospital system, there is at least year-long wait for them.

For people with complex needs including disability, the service system is extremely difficult to navigate, even with the best supports.

For over a decade, the Haymarket Foundation has fundraised to conduct these assessments for people experiencing homelessness – and it opens these up to the sector for all of those in need.

“These assessments are known as the golden ticket to getting the evidence needed to get people housed,” says the CEO of the Haymarket Foundation, Gowan Vyse.

“We are grateful to our supporters who have helped us to do this vital work,” says Gowan. “We would like for this to be part of our funding going forward, as so often it is a crucial part of getting people housed.”

Recently, 19 assessments were carried out, thanks to support from the City of Sydney.

The results are about to published in an academic publication.

Now, the City has extended support for the work over a three-year period. Additionally, there has been support this financial year from Maddocks legal firm and Collier Charitable Fund.

This generous support will make a life-changing difference to 27 people experiencing homelessness who have suspected cognitive impairment this financial year.

Cognitive impairments are common amongst people experiencing homelessness – either people are born with an intellectual disability which is never diagnosed or they acquire an impairment through accident, illness or prolonged alcohol and other drug use.


John was one of 19 people who were helped in the most recent round of funding for neuropsychological assessments.

Eight participants of the 19 received diagnoses of cognitive or intellectual impairments for the first time, providing valuable evidence for resources such as Disability Support Pension, NDIS and priority listed applications with Housing NSW.

Of the 13 who were not already housed or priority listed with Housing NSW, 12 of these had a recommendation of social housing, with eight of these specifically recommending priority listing.

And for John specifically, the assessment has meant a fresh start – he can now get the right type of support to help manage his mental health and importantly, he’s doing that in a place that he calls home.

*John is not his real name.

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