Tonight around 116,000 people are homeless, some bearing the brunt of a harsh winter and sleeping rough on Australia’s streets.
Around 42 per cent are aged under 25 years old and around 18,000 are children under the age of 12.
Homelessness Week (6-12 August) is an opportunity to raise awareness of homelessness and its impacts, and to promote the services available to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
The Department of Human Services is often the first point of contact for many people facing homelessness so it is vital frontline staff can quickly identify individuals and families at risk and offer them information, resources and support.
Specialist staff like Community Engagement Officer Jo Efraraimo visit crisis support services to meet with vulnerable customers in an environment where they feel comfortable.
“The leading cause of homelessness in Australia is family violence” Ms Efaraimo said.
“Other issues that contribute to homelessness include child abuse, relationship breakdown, mental health issues, housing affordability and unemployment.
“We visit refuges and community centres to help connect people who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, with local support services and Centrelink payments.
“We build trust with people so they feel comfortable enough to talk about their situation and refer them to the most relevant support services.
“Services may include refuges, medical services, education and employment support to help build the foundations for a strong, healthy and stable future.”
Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen said the department is committed to maintaining essential outreach services and working closely with community stakeholders to make sure no-one slips through the cracks.
“While it is essential we continue to provide payments and support services for our most vulnerable, it also important we come up with innovative ways to collaborate and address the underlying factors causing homelessness in the first place,” Mr Jongen said.
For more information on government payments and support services for those at risk of homelessness visit www.humanservices.gov.au/socialwork.
To set up a media interview with one of our specialist staff call 1800 531991.