Hoarding and environmental neglect

Hoarding is when someone keeps many things that others think are useless or have little or no value.

A person who is hoarding may have trouble getting rid of anything. They may become distraught when thinking about disposing of items.

Hoarding can affect other people, such as the person's family, friends and neighbours. Family and friends may be concerned because hoarding is stopping the person from looking after themselves.

The person may be unable to cook, bathe or sleep in their bed due to excess clutter in the house. Compulsively saving items can become a safety risk. It can create fall or trip hazards as well as being a fire hazard.

The person who is hoarding may also face eviction if they are renting their home.

Hoarding may also increase the risk of pests such as mice, rats and other vermin. This can result in complaints from neighbours.

Environmental neglect

The department uses 'environmental neglect' to describe what was known as 'squalor'. Squalor has negative associations with filth, poverty and neglect. Using environmental neglect promotes respectful and productive service responses.

Collecting and clutter

Hoarding is different from collecting. Collectors are usually well organised and only collect one type of thing.

Typical clutter does not stop someone from moving around their home. Disposing of clutter does not cause distress as there is no emotional attachment to the items.

Make Safe

Each person with a lived experience of hoarding needs tailored support. The support should be based on their circumstances, needs and choices.

The Make Safe: Guidance for services working with people living with hoarding and environmental neglect places the person at the centre of a service response. The guide is for services and organisations that respond to hoarding and environmental neglect. This includes:

  • community organisations
  • healthcare providers
  • local councils
  • state government agencies
  • regulatory bodies
  • emergency services
  • social and public housing providers
  • animal welfare services
  • private providers.

View Make Safe: Guidance for services working with people living with hoarding and environmental neglect.