Opinion

Editorial: Searching for solutions on homelessness

By Shepparton News

Last year 372 people struggled with homelessness in Greater Shepparton.

Whether they slept rough, in cars or couch surfed with friends, these 372 people did not have a stable roof over their head or a place to call home.

Statistics the Council to Homeless Persons released last year showed Shepparton had the single highest level of homelessness in regional Victoria, affecting 54 people per 100000.

Compared to an average of 27 people per 100000 for other regional electorates, it is clear Shepparton has an alarming issue on its hands.

These startling figures were at the centre of a forum in Shepparton on Saturday hosted by CatholicCare Sandhurst.

About 70 representatives from communities across the Diocese of Sandhurst gathered at the Forum for Long Term Homelessness Solutions to discuss the issue and what more could be done.

In a booklet handed to participants, the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council chairman Vincent Long Van Nguyen addressed the corrosive effect homelessness could have on family life, employment, study and our capacity to contribute to and benefit from society.

Participants then heard from guest speakers and discussed what their communities were currently doing to address homelessness and what more could be done. The Shepparton forum addressed the issue as a broader picture, with homelessness involving significant social and economic costs not just for those it affects but also for society as a whole.

While Shepparton has a large number of homeless people, there are also many amazing organisations and individuals doing their bit to reduce this figure.

Solving the issue of homelessness is not just a job for major community organisations, such as BeyondHousing, The Bridge Youth Service and The Salvation Army, it is something everyone needs to take responsibility for.

If we all become aware of what is going on, hold forums and community discussions to address the issue and work towards possible solutions, we may just help to lower the numbers.

Everyone deserves a place to call home.