In Australia, over 116,000 people are homeless on any given night. The most visible of these are people sleeping rough but the problem is much larger. Homelessness also includes vulnerable people and families living in refuges, crisis accommodation or temporary housing as well as people who are couch surfing or living in cars.
Homelessness Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of the plight of people who experience homelessness. This year, the campaign runs from August 1 to 7. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the national impact of homelessness through national and local community events with the aim of educating communities on how they can make a difference.
The theme of this year’s campaign is: “To end homelessness, we need a plan.”
Plans to alleviate homelessness have been at the forefront of the local Safe Place advocacy group which aims to increase social and affordable housing in Hepburn Shire.
Safe Place has sponsored a number of community forums and attracted internationally recognised speakers to share ideas about addressing affordable housing and homelessness.
Hepburn Shire has also taken steps to address homelessness.
In April 2021, Council adopted an Affordable Housing Policy which commits Council to developing a Strategy to address affordable and safe housing through research, policy and advocacy to other levels of government. The Strategy is presently under development and community consultation will be a part of this process.
A number of initiatives are in place in the Shire to address the problems of homeless people and people who struggle to afford housing.
There are plans to provide showers for people without access to bathing facilities. Bathing is essential not only for everyday good health but for people seeking employment, an inability to clean themselves up before a job interview presents a significant barrier to employment. For similar reasons, there is a need for laundry facilities for people who cannot afford a laundromat.
The Daylesford Foundation is currently assisting a number of families who have been turned out of rental accommodation and cannot find other affordable accommodation. The Foundation is helping wiht the gap between affordable rent and market rent with the aim to give people time to come up with a plan for longer term, affordable accommodation.
The 2021 census data show that over 30% of dwellings in Daylesford/Hepburn and surrounds are unoccupied. Some of these dwellings are on the holiday rental market but others are simply unutilised. To some extent, moral pressure can be brought to bear to open some of these dwellings for longer term rentals. There may be legislative changes that can also be brought to bear.
There are a number of social services in the Shire that are aimed at people experiencing housing stress. These include:
CAFS (Child & Family Services) provide a range of culturally appropriate services including crisis accommodation, transitional housing, assistance with rentals, as well as clothing and counselling referrals. Phone: (03) 5337 3333. Address: 8 Park Lane Daylesford (between 9am and 5pm, Monday – Friday).
Anglicare provides assistance with food and clothing. Call Anglicare for assistance or to make a donation. Phone: (03) 5333 0600. Address: 103 Napier Street, Creswick
Meals are available to those in need:
The 5000 Club provide free community lunches every Friday at noon, Victoria Park Daylesford
The Good Grub Club provides free community breakfast on Tuesday mornings and lunches every Thursday, Uniting Church Hall Daylesford.
Generous local groups like Daylesford Community Op Shop also can offer support for people in need.