Opinion

Conversation continues to end homelessness locally

By Shepparton News

More than 24 000 Victorians and 116 000 Australians will experience homelessness tonight.

Homelessness can be experienced in many ways and affect people who never thought it would happen to them.

When we think of homelessness, there is certainly a stereotype that comes to mind, however, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics, rough sleepers only make up about seven per cent of those experiencing homelessness with the remainder including  people sleeping in cars, rooming houses, couch surfing, or staying in other temporary types of accommodation.

It’s also interesting to learn that 20 per cent of Australia’s homeless population live in Victoria, with Shepparton unfortunately taking out the top spot within regional Victoria.

The epidemic is something that cannot be ignored and we at The News applaud the combined efforts of key local organisations in their fight to lower these statistics.

Yesterday, about 100 people attended an awareness and fundraising event organised by Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor Kim O’Keefe, with support from Shepparton FoodShare, The Salvation Army’s SalvoCare and local business owner Azem Elmaz.

The group shared stories and identified one of the key issues locally as a lack of affordable housing.

This is not only an issue for our region, with the ABS 2016 Census data identifying a lack of housing (40 per cent) as the top reason for experiences of homelessness in Victoria.

The data also found that 99 people or one in six clients are turned away from homelessness services every day because of a lack of housing and resources.

During the past couple of weeks The News has helped share the vital message that more support is needed to ensure everyone in our community is able to access the support services they need.

As Cr O’Keefe mentioned in her speech at yesterday’s event, "the conversation doesn’t finish today".

We will also continue to share the message and advocate for the cause, with many more stories due to be shared in the lead-up to Homelessness Week, held from August 5 to 10.

In 2019, the theme is "Housing Ends Homelessness", so let’s continue the good fight to eradicate homelessness throughout our community.