By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director
Homelessness is a rising issue in many areas of Australia, and the ongoing lack of housing is causing a ripple effect throughout our community in several areas.
These include increased violence, deteriorating mental health conditions and joblessness to name a few.
Homelessness Week runs from August 1 to 7 and highlights the key issues and lack of support around housing.
This year the theme is “Everybody Needs a Home” and reinforces the message that more needs to be done to provide urgent social and affordable housing Australia-wide.
According to the 2016 Census, 4,900 people, or 8.4% of the population, are in need of social housing in the Hinkler electorate.
A staggering 600 of these people are experiencing total homelessness and living rough.
Homelessness Australia report that nation-wide, over 116,000 people experience homelessness on any given night.
A lack of affordable and secure housing is the number one reason for people seeking homelessness support in Australia.
Family and domestic violence was found to be the number one reason for women and children seeking housing assistance, which our Intensive Family Support (IFS) team sees on a frequent basis.
Anecdotal evidence from our IFS team found there has been more demand for emergency housing following the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent stress and violence during lockdown periods.
In the past 12 months, national house rents have increased by 15.1% while the proportion of social housing has declined.
The rental crisis not only affects people seeking long-term reliable accommodation, but countless others with the ripple effect it causes.
People unable to secure a rental property are now living in temporary accommodation, leaving emergency housing options like caravan parks, hotels and hostels exhausted for those fleeing uncertain circumstances.
Some families are sleeping in tents or cars while waiting for more permanent living arrangements to become available.
It’s heartbreaking to think this is a reality for so many people.
Thankfully we have some fantastic community organisations working to combat homeless.
Regional Housing Bundaberg have this week been distributing information packs containing support pathways to people doing it tough.
Regional Housing Bundaberg also attend our monthly Community Hub where various local organisations come together in one easy location on the first Thursday to create convenience for our community members.
We have many services in our region that work hard to assist locals who have fallen on tough times.
While homelessness might be the overarching issue, a holistic approach to support can provide small wins in the overall picture.
Support in this space could look like managing mental health, upskilling, applying for further assistance, or simply having a safe space to open up emotionally.
While complex matters can take time to overcome, there are often smaller improvements that can be made in the interim to improve someone’s quality of life.
What is important is that people feel seen and supported through their struggles, and that they know others are working to help them reach a more ideal outcome.
We are stronger together.