Nominations now open for Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards

The biennial Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards celebrate the exceptional efforts of workers, consumers and organisations within the homelessness sector.

They are an opportunity to recognise the incredible individuals, programs and organisations dedicated to ending homelessness in Victoria.

The awards cover seven categories:

Excellence in Ending Homelessness – Children and families
Excellence in Ending Homelessness – Young people
Excellence in Ending Homelessness – Adults
Excellence in Ending Homelessness – Diverse groups
The Leading Practitioner award
The Consumer Achievement Award
The Beth Thomson Lifetime Achievement Award

Applications close Sunday 25 August

Nominate here.

Sacred heart launches mid-year appeal

Sacred Heart Mission (SHM) has launched its mid-year appeal, recounting the story of Nat*, who found herself experiencing homelessness before being connected to services at the Women’s House.

The appeal calls attention to Nat’s difficult situation after arriving in Australia from Indonesia, when her relationship turned violent, a common cause of homelessness in Australia.

After summoning the courage to flee the violent marriage, Nat spent two years couch-surfing and working casually, earning just $100 a week. Without any form of a support network, professional skills and speaking little English, Nat could not afford private housing and before long, she was experiencing homelessness.

“I was alone and thought to myself if something happened to me, who is going to look for me? Who is going to care?” Nat says.

“I felt so sad. I had no one. I was homeless.”

The appeal explains how Nat came to even more dire straits when she was hit by a speeding car.

“I felt like, ‘why are all these bad things happening to me?’ Everything was happening at once.”

Nat eventually secured short-term, ‘crisis’ accommodation with SHM, where her spirits and hopes were nurtured as her body recovered. During this time, she was referred to SHM’s Women’s House, which she says was a pivotal moment in her life, as she was able to turn her life around.

“This is what help looks like. The great women here at the Women’s House… They told me whatever support I needed I would find it here. I went, felt comfortable and met a lot of great people,” she says.

The Women’s House obtained funds that would allow Nat to study English and Community Services. Nat is now fluent in English and passed her Certificate IV in Community Services, which she wants to use to help other women with a similar experience to hers. She is in transitional housing with Launch Housing, and looks forward to moving into a share flat with friends in the future.

The 2016 Census revealed the person most likely to walk into a homelessness service is a woman aged 24-34, often with a child by her side. In Victoria alone, statistics reflect that of the 24,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night, over 60 per cent are women.

Complex issue

Homelessness is a complex issue, but this is further complicated for women due to issues such as family violence, assault, financial inequality, and gendered role pressures.

Women are two and a half times more likely to retire in poverty than men as a result of the gender pay gap (15.3 per cent in Australia according to the 2016 Census), and a higher incidence of part-time work combined with extended periods out of the workforce.

Nat has made many friends at the Women’s House and still visits. It has given her a new lease of life; she likes to socialise, relax and take part in the weekly pottery classes.

“I can love myself more now. I feel the sun on my skin and it feels so beautiful! I come to the Women’s House and I can now enjoy my surroundings like never before,” she says.

The Women’s House offers various services for women with housing, physical and mental health concerns, substance use issues, family violence, financial and legal matters, and social and life skills, to meet the growing demand.

Women in our community need the safety of the Women’s House. It will cost SHM $613,540 to run the Women’s House this year. After receiving some support from the State Government, SHM needs $294,541 before 30 June to keep the doors of the Women’s House open.

Donations to the SHM winter appeal will ensure women like Nat continue to receive the support they need to exit homelessness and get a second chance at living a fulfilling life.

To donate call 1800 443 278 or visit: sacredheartmission.org/helpwomen

Victorian Homelessness Media Awards now open

Youth Homeless Matter…

Tonight, 28,000 young people in Australia, aged 12-24, will be homeless.

All over Australia, every single day, there are young people sleeping in their cars, on friends’ couches or finding shelter with family because they have no where else to go.

This Youth Homelessness Matters day, help us tell young people experiencing homelessness that they matter, by signing the petition calling on all political parties to support a national plan to end homelessness by 2030.

Fund houses homeless

Minister for Planning, Housing and Multicultural Affairs, Richard Wynne presented Women’s Property Initiatives with the keys to the newly-built home in Ashwood this week.

The stunning home has been developed through the work of the Victorian Homeless Fund — a group of volunteers supported by the Housing Industry Association (HIA) who strive year-round to assist the homeless by building and renovating houses.

The fund’s mission is to ‘build a house and give away a home’.

Generously built by SJD Homes and an extensive group of donors, suppliers and trades, the house has been named in honour of former Victorian Homeless Fund committee member, Brian O’Donnell.

The house has been donated to WPI to provide a home for a home for a female led family in need.

At the opening, Victorian Homeless Fund Chair Colleen May talked about the power of people working together to make a difference.

CEO of Women’s Property Initiatives, Jeanette Large said, ‘This beautiful home will change the future for single mum, Maria, and her three boys aged 15, 13 and 6 when they move in this week.

‘They have been through some very rough times and are desperate for stability and security. We are so grateful to the Victorian Homeless Fund that we can now provide them with this long-term home.’

Maria said that after years of waiting for a stable and appropriate home, this is like a dream come true. ‘We never thought that we would ever get to live in a house like this.’

 

Rethinking transitional housing

Victoria’s THM program was established in 1997 to provide short term housing combined with support for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

With the program turning 21 the Department of Health and Human Services initiated a review in 2017, to develop high level options and recommendations to refresh policy and operational settings. THM property providers and the support services were consulted on the key challenges and issues.

DHHS now wishes to establish a THM Reference Group to provide advice on future directions of the program. Nominations have been called for from interested people. See the Terms of Reference.

Interested parties should email a request for an Expression of Interest Form from Matthew O’Rourke, Senior Project Officer, Homelessness and Accommodation Support or call 9096 3023. Forms must be completed and returned by Friday 15 February 2019.

The Gatwick: The Last Chance Hotel

It’s a pity this documentary did not screen before Channel 9 bought The Gatwick rooming house for its TV renovation program, The Block.

With many of the Gatwick’s former residents now homeless or in jail, the documentary shows how essential the place was as a refuge for Melbourne’s most vulnerable.

Gatwick: The Last Chance Hotel is available on iView until December 27.

Homelessness Week #4

On any night in Australia, 116,000 people are homeless.

It’s not just people sleeping rough on the streets.

All over Australia every single day there are people sleeping in their cars, living in dodgy rooming houses or bedding down on couches on because they have nowhere else to go.

Add your voice to calls for change.

Tenders now open

Tenders are now open for service providers who wish to be involved in supporting rough sleepers who are to be housed in new modular homes on three sites across Victoria.

Minister for Housing, Martin Foley has announced 19 new modular homes at Bacchus Marsh, Norlane and Dandenong will be provided through the Towards Home program.

Towards Home is part of the $45 million Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Plan released in January this year. The new properties add to 30 temporary modular homes that have been placed on sites in Preston, Reservoir, Chadstone, Doveton and Brighton.

Tenders for service providers at the new locations are now open at tenders.vic.gov.au.

Tenders are also open for the Action Plan’s $19 million assertive outreach program, which will see teams established in seven high need areas across Victoria – including Geelong.

The assertive outreach teams will actively seek out and engage with people experiencing homelessness, to help them access emergency accommodation, health services and ongoing case management.