Our network of Emergency Relief (ER) and Material Aid community organisations provide a crucial safety net for people experiencing a crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how critical these organisations are in supporting the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people. To reflect this, our recent Community Grants, made possible through a philanthropic partnership, have focused on providing $80,000 of support for immediate impact.
During the past 18 months many people have sought support for the first time in their lives, leaving many poorly resourced, frontline, community organisations overwhelmed. Having lost their jobs, or reduced work hours, people have been, and continue to seek support to make ends meet the costs of rent/accommodation, utilities, school costs, clothing, food, medication, transport and phone vouchers etc. As well as providing ER, many organisations provide individual case management, including; individual and family counselling advocacy, legal information mediation and referrals to specialist supports, and referral.
Smaller grassroots organisations often ‘run on the smell of an oily rag’ and often rely on volunteer-based workforces. This was particularly evident during the pandemic as many organisations saw a dramatic reduction of the volunteers, placing a strain on services and remaining personnel. Three in four organisations reported a loss of volunteer staff, despite increased demand that saw some organisations extend their service offerings (41 per cent) or hours of operation (16 per cent). Organisations also lost fundraising income as events such as sausage sizzles and fun runs etc. were curtailed. Many organisations reported 30%+ increase in demand for support services.
These factors created great stresses in the system and showed up the fragility and inadequacy of our support systems, deepening the structural drivers of disadvantage and poverty.
“We are facing a critical tipping point in our sector and particularly on the southern peninsula. Overall homelessness is estimated to rise by over 9%, in the region, which is considered the 6th largest rough sleeping area in Victoria. We believe it will be much worse as there are very limited accommodation options available and we are seeing a greater complexity in the cases.” Southern Peninsula Community Support Inc.
This is why we have allocated Community Grants to 16 Emergency Relief and Material Aid organisations across the Melbourne metro region, with the purpose of immediate impact for people in crisis:
|Organisation||Melbourne Metro Region||Grant|
|Big Group Hug||Northern||$5,000.00|
|Casey North Community Information & Support||South East||$5,000.00|
|Dandenong Ranges Emergency Relief Service Inc.||Outer East||$5,000.00|
|Diamond Valley Community Support||North East||$5,000.00|
|First Step||Inner South||$5,000.00|
|Friends of Refugees||South Eastern||$5,000.00|
|Merri Outreach Support Service (MOSS)||Outer Northern||$5,000.00|
|Mums Supporting Families In Need||Outer Southern||$5,000.00|
|National Homelessness Collective||All Metro||$5,000.00|
|Southern Peninsula Community Support||Outer South||$5,000.00|
|West Welcome Wagon||Western||$5,000.00|
|You Matter||All Metro||$5,000.00|
Feedback from charity partners:
“Thanks so much Adam and the team. You guys really are so reliable coming through year after year with these targeted grants that make a real and immediate difference to our vulnerable clients. Over the years, knowing the we can put someone up for a couple of critical nights, get them fed in a vulnerable week, pay for a dose or two of critical medicines that they just can’t afford at the moment. It really makes a difference.” Patrick Lawrence, CEO.
“Thank you to StreetSmart and your supporters for this community grant. With government funding we can do good work but with support from the Immediate Impact Grant we can really make a difference. This grant will be used to provide quick financial assistance to people sleeping rough where other sources of emergency relief are unavailable or our clients do not have the capacity to navigate complex application and reporting processes.” Richie Goonan.
“Whitelion staff and volunteers work hard every day to create a world where young people at risk have the right to equitable opportunities to reach their potential. On behalf of the thousands of young people we support each year, thank you for helping us achieve this vision. We are incredibly grateful for the work that you have put in with your philanthropic partners to make this possible, and the trust you have placed in us in delivering the Whitelion Brokerage Project, engaging young people who are experiencing homelessness to access documents and support to assist them in finding sustained accommodation.” Hang Vo, Chief Executive Officer.
Big Group Hug
“Your generous donation to Big Group Hug will assist many children with warm bedding, much needed toiletries and baby formula. Due to lock down we have been unable to receive donations from the public as usual, and it’s been heart breaking when we can’t provide much needed items.
It’s so wonderful to have this grant which will enable us to provide essential formula to mums to feed their babies. Please be reassured that your wonderful donation will be used wisely and will make a real impact.” Jill Pope.
Dandenong Ranges Emergency Relief Service Inc
“Thank you for this great news! We are very excited, and very grateful. Please pass on our thanks and gratitude to all involved. Once again, many thanks!” Tania Bevan, Chief Executive Officer.
“On behalf of Footscape I thank StreetSmart Australia and your philanthropic supporters for your generous contribution towards our material aid project work. Footscape continues to distribute Podiatry endorsed material aid items to disadvantaged persons including identified homeless persons, financially disadvantaged children, asylum seekers, Aboriginal persons and victims of domestic violence. Painful foot problems affecting such persons are accentuated as individuals may be forced to walk long distances upon poor footwear and socks. In regards to homeless persons, who receive the majority of Footscape material aid, individuals progressively use their feet as their primary mode of transport to get food, attend appointments or even to keep warm.” Anthony Lewis, Chief Executive Officer.
Southern Peninsula Community Support
“That is fabulous news, once again you guys have jumped in to help us and I can’t thank you enough. I have just told Kara our Outreach Worker in the SP Homeless Connections program and in her words “that is fantastic that is going to be so helpful”. Jeremy Maxwell, CEO.
National Homelessness Collective – Melbourne Period Project
“I wanted to reach out and say a big thank you to the StreetSmart team and to the wonderful people who made our $5000 grant possible. Every day is hard for people of Melbourne who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness, however lockdown makes things even more difficult.
With the grant we have received we have so far provided around 120 Period Packs to support menstrual hygiene, 35 Winter Warmer clothing packs to help people sleeping rough to stay warm. Tomorrow we have 50 emergency food hampers being picked up for young people experiencing homelessness. Each pack has enough food for at least a week per person. We also have 120 more Period Packs being assembled today and more Winter Warmer packs going out tomorrow and next week.” Donna Stolzenberg
Diamond Valley Support
“That is great news. The continued lockdown had everyone a little flat 15minutes ago, but this news and being able to help people pay there bills has made the day good again. Thanks again.” Gavin Watson.
Merri Outreach Support Services
“Oh that is such good news, especially on this very dreary cold day. Thank you on behalf of MOSS and more importantly, on behalf of the clients that will hopefully gain some better outcomes from this grant. Once again thank you. Your support is very much appreciated.” Rita Lawrence.
VCOSS Emergency Relief Report: https://vcoss.org.au/policylibrary/2021/06/emergency-relief/