Harry Tan

harry.tan@monash.edu

Biography

Harry is currently a PhD candidate with Monash University. His research is an ethnographic study of how older people in Singapore become, experience and exit homelessness. Harry has previously done research on street children in Bangkok, Thailand and street busking in Singapore. As a volunteer, Harry has worked closely with people experiencing homelessness in Singapore since 2012 and in Melbourne since 2015. Harry has also expanded his volunteering work to include people with mental and addiction issues in Singapore.

Research Topic

Silent All These Years: A Study of Older Homeless People in Singapore

Research Interests

homelessness, addictions-related issues, ageing, marginal populations, ethnography, social justice

Project Summary

My research is an ethnographic study of how older people in Singapore become, experience and exit homelessness. Singapore is a country that prides itself on providing cheap affordable public housing for its citizens. Nonetheless, the increased visibility of older people sleeping rough in public spaces has led to a contentious debate in recent years about the issue of homelessness. In Singapore, it is illegal to sleep rough and homelessness tends to be attributed to personal problems for which the government is not held responsible or to broader structural problems resulting from government policies and bureaucracy. The stories of 26 older people in my research show that such one-sided causal explanations are fundamentally flawed and provide an inadequate understanding of homelessness. Rather than asking whose fault is it, I adopt the pathways approach in my work to highlight homelessness as a process involving personal decisions as well as structural factors.

Supervisors

Dr Helen Forbes-Mewett
Assoc Prof Dharma Arunachalam
Dr Darryn Snell (RMIT)

Links to other websites/profiles/social media

@harrytck