There has been a lot of media surrounding the governments’ annual report on Closing the Gap. The results are sobering, and sadly not surprising given the paternalistic and poorly managed implementation by successive governments. Some Indigenous leaders have called for new targets to be included in Closing the Gap, including housing justice, family violence, and children in care. So what is the situation in Indigenous housing?
This February will mark 10 years since Kevin Rudd stood on the parliament floor and said ‘sorry’ to the stolen generations. It was a rare moment and the nation seemed poised to genuinely move towards reconciliation.
Sadly, in the 10 years that have passed, not a lot has changed. Read More
While the stereotypical face of poverty is a older man – a lifetime down on his luck, the fastest growing demographic of people experiencing homelessness is single women over the age of 55.
For 15 years StreetSmart has been funding smaller grassroots organisations on the front line of community services. In recent years we have supported a number of services that are raising alarm bells about the scale of the issue, and the need for urgent reform. Read More
As we wind up another year, it is a good time to pause and reflect on where we have come from, and where we need to go. Sadly, 2017 has not been a positive year for the state of homelessness. We have continued to backslide on key issues like affordable housing, and maintained the status quo in key funding areas. While government has failed to act, 2017 has also seen increasing public concern, and greater media reporting on the causes and harms of homelessness. Read More
Here at StreetSmart we love this time of year. DineSmart is in full swing with 122 restaurants around the country busy raising funds for us and we get to announce our CafeSmart Community Grants – the culmination of all that hard work a few months ago. With the support of thousands of coffee drinkers and more than 763 cafes we were able to raise a record $215,500 back on 4th August. Our generous Sponsors sponsored, Roasters donated beans, baristas brewed, and thousands of people came together to raise funds and take action against homelessness.
The Grenet Foundation and the Australian Communities Foundation kicked in an additional $70,000 in matched funding through our ‘Collective’ – bringing our CafeSmart total to $285,500 for local homelessness projects.
We have been able to support 156 organisations across Australia, including 46 new organisations and 12 Lead Grant projects. A massive thank you to everyone who got involved and made these grants possible – here is where your dollars are headed….
So-called ‘tent city’ on the doorstep of the Reserve Bank in Sydney and Flinders Street in Melbourne has generated a lot of media, and heavy-handed responses from public institutions. But sadly, homelessness in metro Australia is just the tip of a much greater problem.
A recent report by the Council for Homeless Persons found that 37% of rough sleepers are in the middle and outer suburbs, whereas only 8% of people sleeping rough gravitate to inner metro areas.
“Rough sleeping in the CBD and central areas has a lot of visibility and media coverage, but there are a lot of rough sleepers in the outer suburbs,” says Jay Church from Anchor Housing, an organisation servicing Melbourne’s Yarra Ranges, and our StreetFunder supported project this October.
The Yarra Ranges includes the very outer urban fringe and semi-rural areas. The region ranks highly housing stress, which is estimated to sit at 30.3%. It also ranks in the top 10 areas for socio-economic disadvantaged communities nationally.
“The Yarra Ranges includes pockets of deep poverty and a highly vulnerable demographic,” Church said. “Coupled with the cost of private rental, the capacity to meet that cost is simply out of reach for lots of people.”
Suburban homelessness is increasing in lockstep with rising housing prices, stagnant wages and, below poverty level income support payments. In areas with few job opportunities, and poor amenities, services like Anchor Housing are a lifeline for people doing it tough.
The Rough Sleeper Initiative engaged rough sleepers in Melbourne, Port Phillip, Stonnington and Yarra Ranges. They found the majority of people were on some form of income support, and in labour force. “This picture supports a conclusion that labour market conditions and low-income support payments are drivers of increasing levels of homelessness and rough sleeping,” the report said.
Anchor Housing provided 1,839 bed nights in 2016/17 and about 46% of those helped were already homeless when they presented. The other 54% are part of a growing demographic of the ‘almost homeless’ – people in deep financial stress and at risk of losing their home.
Deep cuts to the federal social services budget over successive years has stripped away the ability of many services to assist people in crisis who need assistance with bills, rent, medicines, food and other basic needs.
We have been funding homelessness organisations for fifteen years, and the sad reality is that it is getting worse, not better. More and more people require help to meet very basic living costs, and often small amounts of funding are all that stands between someone having a home and them ending up homeless. Meanwhile, services are having their funding cut, or left in a constant state of limbo.
StreetSmart has supported Anchor with $15,900 in community grants since 2006 and will be supporting Anchor again this October to try and redress the black hole funding cuts have left in their material aid budget. That means a food voucher for a young family in crisis accommodation or financial assistance to keep up with the cost of private rental.
“We support people who are experiencing homelessness to get back on track, including people are rough sleeping. We also do a lot of work with people at risk. Preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place is a key.”
On any given night 26,238 Australians aged 12-24 are homeless. These young people are more likely to leave school, experience long term unemployment, and are more likely to experience persistent homelessness in adulthood.
The main risk factors that lead to homelessness among young people include: family violence, child abuse, parents with alcohol or drug issues, and mental illness. That is to say – young people who experience homelessness have the odds stacked against them from the outset. Read More
When so much attention on homelessness surrounds the eviction of rough sleepers from major cities, or the doom and gloom of housing (un)affordability – it’s good to shine a light on some positive actions that are changing lives.
At StreetSmart, we proudly support new ways to tackle homelessness and have provided seed funding for ideas like Orange Sky Laundry, Fare Share and HoMie which have all gone on to make meaningful community impact. Another program that has grown in leaps and bounds is the Big Issues Street Soccer program. Read More
The causes of homelessness are many and varied. Domestic violence, a shortage of affordable housing, sudden or long term unemployment, mental illness, family breakdown and drug and alcohol abuse all contribute to individual experiences of homelessness.
At the population level the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare tells us that there are two main reasons people experience homelessness. Simply not being able to afford housing and domestic violence. Read More
Dave Humphreys is On the Go Espresso – a zippy little caffeine station that clocks up to 150 kilometres in a day serving up customers all over the Sunshine Coast. On the Go Espresso is also one of CafeSmart’s quiet achievers.
Since 2015 Dave’s collection box has more than doubled the totals from the $1 per coffee sold on the day. I gave Dave a call to talk about the secret to his CafeSmart success. It turns out the secret ingredient: passion for cause. Read More