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Sharna de Lacy

4 Simple Things You Can Do To Support People Experiencing Homelessness

By | News | No Comments

Christmas is just around the corner and for many, that will mean food and fun enjoyed in the company of friends and family.

For the estimated 116,000 people experiencing homelessness – Christmas can be a painful time. While the world around them seems to be connecting with loved ones, it can be a reminder of grief, loss, and isolation. Domestic violence rates tend to rise over Christmas, with increased alcohol abuse and financial stress leading to a spike in homelessness for women, young people and children. 

There’s lots of ways to positively contribute to those doing it tough this Christmas, and here are four things you can do to help out… Read More

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It’s CafeSmart Grant Giving Season – and We Just Funded 159 Projects

By | CafeSmart, StreetSmart News | No Comments

The last few weeks of the year are always a mad scramble, and here at StreetSmart, we’re no different. With DineSmart is in full swing, behind the scenes we’ve been busy wrapping up CafeSmart 2018. We recently announced our Fundraising Awards and most importantly – reviewing grants and distributing proceeds to local projects.

It’s always exciting to bring you this news, which is the culmination of a lot of work for us and over 850 small business partners across Australia. Thanks to this effort, CafeSmart Community Grants are now making their way to 159 projects. Read More

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4 Projects Lending a Hand To Those Doing It Tough This Christmas

By | News, Projects StreetSmart, StreetFunder | No Comments

Although Christmas is a joyful time for many of us, it can be a very difficult time for many. Financial pressures, social isolation, and family separation increase dramatically over this period, making it one of the busiest times of year for the projects and services we support.

That’s why we have a number of ways to lend a hand to those who are doing it tough this holiday season – with DineSmart in full swing and StreetFunder supporting four projects to help meet the demand of Christmas – there are lots of ways to pay it forward. Read More

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The Mum Powered Charity That’s Helping Local Families in Need

By | DineSmart, Projects StreetSmart, StreetSmart News | No Comments

Jessica Macpherson, founder and CEO of St Kilda Mums

St Kilda Mums connects new and pre-loved baby goods with families in need, and was founded by a group of mums with the very simple idea that local families can help each other out.

With a little helping hand from funds raised through our DineSmart campaign, this volunteer powered organisation has grown to include Eureka Mums in Ballarat and Geelong Mums. Jessica Macpherson, founder and CEO of St Kilda Mums now oversees an organisation with over 2,500 volunteers. But it started with just a handful of goods she donated to the St Kilda Maternal and Child Health Centre. Read More

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Housing and the Myth of Trickle Down Economics

By | News, StreetFunder | No Comments

While the Australian electorate is still seething from the knifing of yet another sitting Prime Minister, there is no sign the freshly conservative face of the federal Coalition is likely to attend to voters most pressing concerns: insecure work, the cost of living, good public healthcare and education, affordable housing and wealth inequality. While politicians in Canberra have been busy wrestling control of government, an estimated third of the population are in rental stress. Read More

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5 Things You Need to Know About Housing First and Homelessness

By | News, StreetFunder | No Comments

1. People need a Safe Permanent Home Before Other Supports.

Housing First is an evidence based model that tells us something that’s pretty intuitive – people need a stable roof over their heads before they need anything else. Shelter (and food) are the core needs of every individual without exception.

This sounds pretty straight forward, but our approach to homelessness in Australia has grown to work in reverse. Over time government responses to homelessness have begun to treat those experiencing it as personally responsible. Rather than seeing the bigger picture (like the cost of housing, domestic violence etc) successive governments have resorted to victim blaming – requiring people to fix their personal deficits before they can be housed.

As Professor Eoin O’Sullivan, editor of the European Journal of Homelessness told Probono Australia: “[Homelessness] is about dysfunctional housing markets and dysfunctional services rather than dysfunctional individuals”

2. It Works for People Who’ve Been Chronically Homeless

Most people who experience long term rough sleeping typically have complex trauma.

Sadly, much of this has been experienced in the care of Government institutions such as the state care system,  prisons, hospitals and a long series of difficult interactions with other public services. Mistrust of police, hospital staff, and even homelessness services is common and difficult.

Long term rough sleepers are survivors and do need additional supports – like drug and alcohol treatment, life skills training or mental health support. The housing first model does not discount the need for specialist interventions. It says that for people to recover – they need housing first. StreetSmart has been supporting the successful implementation of Housing First projects for many years, such as through Micah Projects in Brisbane.

3. It Works for People Who Have Been Priced out of Their Homes

One of the reasons homelessness is on the rise is because of the sky-rocking cost of housing across the country. This is affecting people who might not ordinarily find themselves homeless – including low waged workers, young people, older people and those that find themselves on the economic margins but are otherwise usually able to maintain housing.

Jumping in quickly to rapidly rehouse people works to keep people out of homelessness. It prevents the vicious cycle of poverty and homelessness from wreaking havoc on people’s lives. It works through simple measures like short term financial assistance, advocacy with private rental, and getting people into public housing. Not everyone requires intensive support, but some do.

4. It’s Cheaper

Homelessness creates a huge cost to people, and also to public spending. It can be difficult to put an accurate number on the cost of homelessness because its effects are deep and far reaching. It pushes people into hospital emergency departments, contact with the justice system, creates demand for expensive temporary accommodation and creates a system that maintains rather than ends homelessness.

It’s easier to imagine the true cost of homelessness at the individual level. Earlier this year we supported the First Nations Homelessness Project to prevent evictions in Perth. By spending $400 on maintenance they saved the Department of Housing the $40,000 cost of eviction. They prevented Child Protection from stepping in to remove now homeless children from their parents. They prevent visits to crisis services, to Centrelink, and prevent the host of health issues that result from homelessness. Homelessness results in multiple traumas, can cost lives, and it costs a lot of taxpayers’ money.

5. We Already Have Effective Ways to Implement Housing First

Registry Weeks (supported by The Australian Alliance to End Homelessness) enable the use the ‘Housing First’ model by working to mobilise resources at the community level to identify, by name, every individual and family in need of permanent housing, specifically targeting rough sleepers and the most vulnerable.

Understanding the real-time demand for housing and support services in each community assists local organisations and agencies to understand the level of housing and support supply that their community requires to end street and episodic homelessness.  

Through knowing everyone by name a community can put a number, names and faces on a seemingly unsolvable problem. While a street count can gauge the extent of a problem, Registry Weeks take that information and turn it in to permanent housing and appropriately supporting each person who is homeless in the community.

Our August StreetFunder campaign is targeting this important intervention and supporting the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness to equip more communities to roll out Registry Weeks and solve homelessness at the local level.

We’ve supported the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness Registry Weeks before. It’s a model that works and really does change lives. They were able to half homelessness in Newcastle within 6 months, securing permanent housing and the right ongoing supports.

Our CEO Adam Robinson says there is no reason this grassroots approach should not be taken up nationally: “The housing first model works, so we need to be asking our political leadership why we are not using best practice, evidence-based models to end homelessness. It is community organisations and some seriously dedicated people at the grassroots that are driving this, and we will continue to support them. For a wide-scale change, this needs to be supported at the State and Federal level”

Ways You Can Help

You can donate to StreetFunder here and empower more communities to roll out Registry Weeks

Sign the Everybody’s Home petition to demand government action here

Check out the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness Here.

 

 

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3 Life Saving Projects in 3 Cities

By | News, StreetFunder | No Comments

Research from overseas suggests that homeless people, who sleep rough, have a life expectancy of between 43 – 47 years. Sleeping on the street is dangerous and creates a host of health issues, and untreated chronic illness, wounds, and infections, that most people think we left to the earlier parts of the 20th century, can turn deadly.

Rough sleepers commonly suffer from untreated mental health issues, injuries, skin infections, poor foot and mouth care, and blood-borne viruses. In winter it’s especially hard to keep on top of even the most minor of ailments, which can become serious problems.

As numbers of homeless people swell, and winter closes in, this months EOFY StreetFunder campaign will raise vital funding for three lifesaving health projects – Night Nurses (Melbourne), Homeless Healthcare (Perth) and Street Med (Sydney) – who hit the streets each night to care for the most vulnerable in our community.

HOMELESS HEALTH – PERTH

Homeless Health is a vital service run out of the back a van by Dr Andrew Davis, and a social worker. They cover drop in centres and homeless street ‘hot spots’. They provide care 365 days a year – including nights, round the clock nurses, support workers, and special support for newly housed people, to help keep them housed. This month we are helping to replenish their medical supplies.

“One of the major issues we face is wounds. When you’re living on the street and you get a cut, or can’t keep your feet dry – the rate of infection is very high and can be fatal if left untreated. That’s why we always need a good stock of wound dressings. The other issue that our patients face is chronic health conditions like diabetes which have been untreated for a long time. Having Diabetes kits available is really essential.” Dr Andrew Davis, Homeless Health.

NIGHT NURSES – MELBOURNE

Night Nurses are a team of committed professional nurses who walk the streets of Melbourne’s  CBD every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from – 7pm to 11pm, helping care for some of the most vulnerable people in our community. They help support the work of Youth Projects primary health service – the Living Room and the Women’s Wellness Center (both of which have been supported by StreetSmart).

“It will go a long way to providing the basics needed for keeping people healthy and well. That might be as simple as snacks for diabetics, providing a wound dressing, or socks for people whose greatest challenge is keeping their feet protected from ‘trench foot’  – a condition that is used to describe what happened to men in the trenches of WW1. We need to ensure our Nurses are properly equipped with the tools they need to treat people effectively, on the spot, and this grant will make a good dint in our equipment needs.” Richi Goonan, Operations Manager for Community Health, Youth Projects.

STREET MEDIC – SYDNEY

StreetMed Inc. provides street-level first aid, mental health and advocacy for the homeless and at-risk people in Outer Western Sydney. On an average shift, they see 20-30 people and help treat and manage chronic health conditions like diabetes and wounds from life on the street. One of their aims is to equip people with the things they need to treat problems before they get serious.

“At street level, we see a variety of injuries and wounds ranging from minimal right through the spectrum to requiring medical assistance.  If our clients were equipped with early intervention measures such as first aid kits, their level of care would increase and the long-term ramifications of infection and medical intervention would decrease. Currently, as volunteers, we have been sourcing first aid kits funded from our own pockets and the response we have received to the few we have handed out has been overwhelmingly positive.”  Chris Cleary, Founder, Street Med

These three projects provide vital care for people sleeping on the streets, in parks, under bridges or where ever they can find shelter.  As winter sets in the demand for their services increases and these services depend on public support. We believe no one should be sleeping rough, but they are, and numbers have increased dramatically over the past 5 years.

Our aim is to raise $20,000 during June to share across the three projects.  All donations are tax-deductible and we’d love your support to help deliver care where it is needed most.

 

 

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