Opinion: What is the one thing you would tell the would-be Prime Minister?
Homelessness has reached crisis point in Australia. One in 200 people experience homelessness. In the lead up to the federal election charity Sacred Heart Mission asked their staff:
‘What is the one thing you would tell the would-be Prime Minister?
“Family violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children. On average, one woman a week is murdered by her partner in Australia. Women and children shouldn’t have to experience homelessness as a consequence of abusive relationships.”
Maria Coelho, Coordinator at Women’s House
“In the last five years, there has been a 188 per cent increase in people exiting prison into homelessness. In that time, three well-known rooming houses in St Kilda, that provided housing to those exiting prison have been closed – two of which were sold and converted into ‘luxury’ apartments.”
Amy Fox, Quality Officer People and Strategy
“None of the states have homelessness policies that talk to each other. The Australian housing system should ensure that everyone has a secure, safe roof over their head. But we don’t have any overarching policy to achieve that.”
Chris Stoltz, The Board’s Chair
“We know with long term support, people stay housed, and we have proven this. Through our Journey to Social Inclusion program, offering three years of support, at the end of this period, 85 per cent of this people were in housing. We know if we focus on the key areas of health and social connection we can make lasting changes in people’s lives.”
Stephen Schmidtke, Executive Director Client Services
“People sleeping rough often have an untreated mental illness, chronic ill health, and histories of trauma. They may have difficulties with emotional regulation because of the trauma. Trauma rewires the brain and leaves people with difficulties trusting others. Homelessness is a very complex issue.”
“We see a large group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the Mission, and yet they make up less than one per cent of Victoria’s population, but they are 10 times more likely to experience homelessness.”
Celeste Brittain, Supportive Housing Worker at GreenLight
“After 18 months, four in 10 people leave their social housing for the wrong reasons. They don’t get the support they need to settle in and stay in their new homes. The current ‘one size fits all’ approach isn’t working, because people need help to transition from homelessness.”
Laura McNulty, Full-time Carer at Sacred Heart Community
“At Sacred Heart Mission, a meal is only the beginning. We are a ‘one-stop-shop’ where people can get as little or as much support as they need. We use our meals, and the welcoming environment we foster, to engage people in conversations about making positive change.”
Wouter Spijker, Manager Sacred Heart Local (Acting)
“Sacred Heart Mission has been working with people experiencing homelessness for 36 years and we know people’s lives improve when they are in stable housing. We have many great, proven programs, but they will not work unless we have safe secure and affordable housing available to people.”
Zaheer Riaz, Case Manager St Kilda Intensive Outreach Team
This article was originally published on Sacred Heart Mission’s website.