In Brisbane, 45,000 households are in a state of squalor – no better than pigsties – yet this is not because their occupants are lazy or slothful, rather they suffer from hoarding disorder.
Hoarders collect and save so many possessions – often junk – which can be piled from floor to ceiling and can render entire rooms unusable.
In extreme cases the whole house can be overrun.
Sometimes keeping large numbers of pets, often in squalid conditions exacerbates the problem.
“Overall in Queensland we don’t have data on hoarding, but we know in Brisbane it affects 45,000 properties,” Melissa Horton, community service manager of the Floresco Centre, Aftercare, one of the few agencies, including Centacare, which is dedicated to the problem, said.
“The impact of hoarding is not only on the people themselves, but their families, carers, neighbourhoods and communities.”
Only in recent years has hoarding been classified as a psychological disorder.
It is almost five times as frequent as schizophrenia and twice as common as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and it affects between two and five per cent of the population.
There is no national strategy to address the problem although it is estimated to affect 600,000 people nationwide.
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