Closing the Gap on Housing

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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.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up 23% percent of the homeless persons, but represent 3% of the population. Seventy-five percent of Indigenous homeless people live in severely overcrowded dwellings – which is considered as a form of homelessness.

Housing impacts every one of the Closing the Gap targets – on health, education, and employment. A home is not just a fundamental right, it is essential to our health and wellbeing.

Lack of housing means many generations live under the same roof, with Uncles and Aunties sleeping cheek and jowl with children on floors, and makeshift bedrooms under verandahs. It is not just an inconvenience – overcrowding has a clear link to family violence, poor health outcomes, kids performance at school and rates of removal by children protection.

The centrality of housing to Closing the Gap is recognised by Indigenous leaders, who have called for housing justice to be included in the targets.

One piece of the puzzle is the National Partnership on Remote Housing. The Partnership is a $5.4b ten-year funding agreement between the Commonwealth and states and territories. A recent review found ‘clear evidence’ that investment in housing has been of poor quality, and failed to engage communities in the process.

Robert Cooper from the Larrakia Nation in the NT has been working in the housing space for over a decade and would like to see the issues of overcrowding addressed by giving more ownership to the community –

“In Cape York some years back, we lobbied to get delivery out of Federal and State government hands, and into the hands of indigenous people themselves. It took 18 months of lobbying, but has been highly successful.”

With the Remote Housing Partnership sitting in limbo, Robert is still trying to win the ear of the pollies and policy boffins – “It needs to be driven by the grassroots. It’s not rocket science.”

Larrakia Nation’s responses to homelessness in Darwin have won National Homelessness Sector Awards for their programs, which include outreach, advocacy and cultural preservation. “Larrakia people have the respect of other communities, and can connect with their experiences and needs.”

With funds provided by our StreetFunders this month, Larrakia will be able to branch out further and provide swags, more accommodation vouchers and provide for other basic needs.

Larrakia Nation is a critical support for people without a place to live in Darwin, but Robert still has his eye fixed on the big picture solutions for indigenous communities across the NT –

“We are continuing to lobby government to develop solutions from the ground up. It comes back to the basic issue – that if you assume the same thing for all indigenous people you won’t get an appropriate response.”

As the nation marks the anniversary of the Apology to Stolen Generations, we are determined to do more than pay empty tribute. We cannot ignore the ongoing inter-generational trauma the nations First People continue to experience. Healing starts not with words, but with action, and a safe, secure place to call home. 

If you would like to support Larrakia Nation, you can donate to our StreetFunder campaign here. You can learn more about their work by following them on Facebook.


Want to learn more? Here are some great resources from around the web…

The Healing Foundation

Stolen Generation Testimonies

Closing the Gap

The National Partnership on Remote Housing

Australian Institute for Health and Welfare and Homelessness Australia (homelessness among Indigenous Australians)



Seventy and Homeless for the First Time: The Rise of Older Women’s Homelessness

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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.

The Women and Girls Emergency Centre provides specialist support for older women, many seeking help for the first time. Program worker Rebecca Wilschefski explained their program supports ‘women who can be up to 70 years old and experiencing homeless first time. It’s hard for anyone, but to be entering a refuge for the first time at such a late age can be a really difficult experience.’  

According to the latest HILDA Survey, women over 60 are the lowest earning of all demographic groups nationally. Having led conventional lives, raised families, worked part time or  in unpaid roles – running the school tuck shop or caring for elderly parents – women have retired with less savings and assets than men their age.

On average women will enter retirement with about half the superannuation a man does. Practically speaking, that means that the average man can live for 22 years on superannuation, while a woman can live for just 12. 

“There is a large cohort of women who don’t have superannuation, and they don’t have housing security. Women aged 55 to 65 and sometimes older, are not eligible for the Aged Pension and are subsisting on NewStart allowance”, April Bragg from the Housing for the Aged Action Group explained. Most of the women have faced years of age discrimination in the workplace, and some women are now in their seventies still fiercely holding on to their part time jobs – fearful of what will happen without that source of income.”

While it is clear that women are victim to lifelong structural settings that have undermined their financial security – the state of the housing market is what is pushing so many women from housing stress into homelessness.

Women who are retiring now are dovetailing a bloated housing market that offers just 1.62% private properties nationally that are affordable to a single person dependant on the Aged Pension, with a withering social housing stock, and governments still taking a decades long nap behind the wheel – older women are paying the price.

Most of the women who present to us are those unable to maintain private rental, apart from limited income high rental prices consume practically all of their income. Many have fallen into ill

Many women who present to us are unable to maintain private rental, which with such high rental prices can consume practically all of their income. Many have fallen into illness after spending a lifetime caring for others, and are now left without the financial security to care for themselves”, says Bragg.

While a woman born in the sixties has certainly faced more outright discrimination than her daughters – the situation has not so radically changed.  Women still make up over two-thirds of Australia’s primary carers, 70 percent of the part time workforce and earn 87c out of every dollar a man does.

With less in the bank, and socio-economic policies that continue to disadvantage women’s financial independence – we should be paying more attention to the experience of the women who came before us, and fighting with them for a better deal.

Wilschefski says there needs to be policy change to ensure women enter mature age with the financial and housing support they need. “If you cannot remain in or re-enter the workforce, cannot claim the Aged Pension, and have no retirement savings because you’ve been in and out of the workforce caring for others – it’s a real poverty trap and it needs to be urgently addressed.”

Our government has a responsibility to ensure policy does not arbitrarily consign women to destitution when they enter older age. There is also a moral responsibility to support women who have helped to a raise generation, and shape a more gender equal future. These are women who have contributed enormously to this country, and who our society owes a great debt. It’s imperative that we do better.


Join the fight to fund better services for older women. Share this article, or donate to our StreetFunder campaign to support HAAG and Women and Girls Emergency Centre.


The State of Housing and Homelessness in 2017

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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.


This year saw a steady growth in the number of people being affected by homelessness. People contacting homelessness services has grown by almost 20% over four years, and the critical lack resources and housing options saw 1 in 4 of these people turned away every day.

The overwhelming majority of our partner services tell us that the mix of funding cuts and increased demand are leaving them simply unable to cope. Despite the clear and pressing need, federal leaders have failed to take leadership on the issue. As the Council for Homeless Persons recently stated:

“While new investments in social housing [are welcome], these have come after years of neglect, and in a context in which the cost of renting keeps rising faster than incomes, pushing a constant and increasing flow of people into homelessness. Despite thousands of people lining up at agency doors every year, federal homelessness funding to the states has flatlined. “


Although just a small percentage of those experiencing homelessness are sleeping rough in major cities- as homelessness has grown, so have those seeking refuge in major centres. Sydney and Melbourne both moved to criminalise rough sleeping, fueling a year-long battle that at times turned violent.  

The tent city at Martin Place, also known as Sydney’s 24-7 Street Kitchen and Safe Space stood afoot the Reserve Bank’s doorstep for almost 12 months. Tent City was eventually evicted when the NSW Parliament passed laws that would give the State Government the power to remove people or goods who “were unacceptable impacts on the public.” 

While the issue of homelessness came to the doorstep of political leaders, the NSW government failed to deliver on the need for new housing in the state budget and offered Tent City residents unsafe or completely unsuitable housing solutions.

Moves to criminalise homelessness also took a spotlight in Melbourne, centred around the sharp rise in rough sleepers in the CBD. The City of Melbourne attempted to introduce by-laws that would ban rough sleeping and allow unattended belongings to be confiscated.

The so-called homeless-ban was delayed and eventually dumped in the face of overwhelming public criticism. Clashes between police and protesters were a regular feature of 2017, some of which turned violent.

While local governments have little influence over the major drivers of homelessness, Sydney and Melbourne’s heavy-handed responses have set an unfortunate precedent for how our communities respond to the crisis. Greater cooperation between levels of government, investment, and leadership are all on our wish list for 2018.


Despite the rental market driving a steady stream of people out of their homes, there has been a disappointing lack of federal leadership on easing the pressure on renters.

The 2017 federal budget did not set out a national affordable housing strategy and offered no plan to increase government funding for new social housing. The underlying drivers of the inflated housing market – namely negative gearing and capital gains concessions were left untouched.

The first national survey of tenants also revealed that renters in Australia have little security, are living in poor quality homes, experience discrimination based on their income, age, parental status and are fearful of reprisal if they request repairs and maintenance.

Housing affordability and the rights of tenants are central to maintain secure housing. We need public policy treat housing as a fundamental right, not a commodity – and we have a long way to go to shift attitudes and policy on this issue. 


While it has been a disappointing year for government leadership on homelessness –  community concern has grown. Everyday people and businesses are concerned about the crisis unfolding in their community and are taking action.

Major media outlets have placed a spotlight on housing and homelessness, bringing the depth of the problem to the kitchen table of more Australians than ever. The Huffington Post, ABC, SBS aired ‘Filthy Rich and Homeless’ challenged stereotypes, and brought the issue to a large audience.

Our fundraising initiatives bring together businesses, services and local people to raise funds. Through our community engagement, we know that concern is growing. CafeSmart took place in August this year and raised a record $2.85 million for local homelessness services. Our StreetFunder program has grown to raise almost $100 thousand with many people donating for the first time after a Google search on how to support people experiencing homelessness. Our DineSmart campaign will conclude on the 24th of December, with tens of thousands of diners having contributed to help fund local services. 

We cannot end homelessness without dealing with the big picture complexities that are driving the crisis. With more and more people expressing deep concern and being personally touched by homelessness – we are hopeful that 2018 will see government respond to public sentiment and take leadership on the issue.

We would like to thank all of our partners and supporters for joining our work and giving us a strong sense of hope for the future. We cannot end homelessness alone, but we can if we speak out and act together.


CafeSmart Supporters Power 156 Community Projects

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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….


Lead Grant Projects

With public funding uncertainty many important organisations find it hard to test good ideas, extend proven programs, or fully fund priorities. We have selected a number of ‘Lead Grants’ which have received larger grants and through The StreetSmart Collective and philanthropic matched giving we were able to scale these projects to multiply their impact.  

Our First National Lead Grant:

Registry Weeks mobilise people and resources at the local level to understand and respond to individuals experiencing street homelessness in their community with the aim to end street homelessness. Working closely with Australian Alliance to End Homelessness, Mercy Foundation and Micah Projects we are funding more Registry Weeks across Australia to enable more local communities to end street homelessness  Find out more about Registry Weeks here


A Look at some State Based Projects…

ACT:  $1250 for food rescue organisation OzHarvest to improve their capacity and storage.
NSW:  $2250  for Make a Difference to help establish and run an Orange Sky Laundry Van in Port Macquarie.
NT: $1250 for The Schools Project to support kids in crisis accommodation to attend school and their after school activities.
QLD:  $1250 for West End Community House to provide a free Community Breakfast to people in their neighbourhood
SA: $1250 for Heart and Soul, a volunteer led food assistance program in Adelaide to purchase an industrial bread slicer.
TAS: $1250 for Tassie Mums, a volunteer led organisation providing support to families in crisis through repurposing kids clothes and equipment.
VIC:  $1500 for NDCH and Mallee Family Care to support people into housing with New Tenant Packs.
WA:  $2,000 for South West Community Legal Centre to support their Homeless Legal Pop Up and Outreach service in regional areas south of Perth.

And here is a wonderful word of thanks from one of our new projects, Camera Story in WA. Working with Youth Futures, Camera Story provide young people experiencing homelessness with a creative outlet to tell their stories and build self confidence.

“Camera Story would love to thank StreetSmart for their decision to award our small but dedicated team this generous grant. Camera Story cannot wait to utilise the grant money to purchase equipment. We intend to place these resources in the hands of the young people we work with, and watch them grow in confidence and capacity through the power of positive photography. We couldn’t have done it without you” Cheers, Jacqueline Warrick & Sarah Landro, Co-founders.


Here’s the State breakdown –   reflecting the funds raised in each State

Lead Projects Total Projects Project Funding
VIC 6 51 $122,750
NSW 5 51 $92,000
QLD 1 22 $33,500
WA 16 $19,000
SA 9 $9,000
TAS 2 $2,500
NT 4 $5,500
ACT 1 $1,250
12 156 $285,500

For full lists of Grants made for each state:

ACT Grants | NSW Grants | NT Grants | QLD Grants | SA Grants | TAS Grants | VIC Grants | WA Grants

Here’s what some of the grant recipients said…

“Yet again StreetSmart have generously supported the Margaret River Soup Kitchen run by the Margaret River Community Centre through the CafeSmart grant. Your support is an invaluable addition to the soup kitchen that provides healthy meals twice a week to people experiencing homelessness and in need and will this year assist us in preparing some caravans for interim housing. Thankyou!”

Tassie Mums loves Street Smart’s support without it we wouldn’t be in a position to continue to provide babies and children of Tasmania with clothing, toys and nappies, including those experiencing homelessness. Thank you Street Smart for your support, it is very much appreciated.”

Albany Youth Support Association would like to thank Street Smart for supporting our self-funded kitchen Garden program, Our application process was very straight forward and we appreciated being approached by Street Smart who have identified the work we do in complex homelessness is worth getting behind with a small grant. Small grants help little things grow into big things.”


Tackling Homelessness in the Suburbs

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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.”

If you want to support Anchor Housing to maintain vital material aid, you can donate to our October StreetFunder here.



SeedFunding Youth Homelessness Services to Break the Cycle

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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.

For those subsisting on Youth Allowance, the average rental will cost a young person 63% of their income. To put that in context, a person is generally considered to be in housing stress if they pay 30% of their income or more on housing. Entering the private rental market with no rental history, no employment history, and insufficient income support make the odds of getting out of the homelessness trap seem insurmountable. That makes getting educated, and getting into secure employment a high priority.

The Barwon South West Homelessness Network are in the business of making a dent in these struggles – with supported housing, and assistance from case managers. What they lack, is adequate funding to support young people to get back to school, or find secure employment. When the statistics tell us this is one of the greatest barriers young homeless people face, we think more can be done.

“Across the network we constantly face the issue of not being able to provide support for things like getting some new clothes, a haircut, or a taxi voucher to get to an interview. There are funding streams available – but they are not able to meet that critical response. Going through the other funding streams cannot get this done.” -Andrew Edger, Barwon South West Homelessness Network Coordinator.

Andrew is also a key resource person for StreetSmart, sitting on our Victorian Grants Committee providing expert advice on the needs of frontline services. StreetSmart CEO, Adam Robinson and Andrew have been brainstorming ways to practically assist young people to move beyond homelessness. What is missing is being able to respond quickly to what young people need. It could be preparing for an interview across town in 3 days time, or new uniforms for an apprenticeship.

“With a patchwork landscape of funding, and the specialised needs in the homelessness sector – StreetSmart is here to step in and fill the funding gaps. In collaboration with the The Barwon South West Homelessness Network, we are seed-funding a coalition of specialist youth homeless services to set up the “Now I am Ready” fund, enabling services to meet the cost of work and education support. That could be a TAFE course, a new uniform, or a semester of prescribed textbooks. Ideas like this need community backing so that young people are supported at the right time and in the right way.”  – StreetSmart CEO, Adam Robinson.

With many homeless young people lacking family support or a social safety net, it is up to us – the community – to support them when they need it most. And Andrew has a whole of community firmly in mind.

“We want to develop a whole of community response. Getting local business involved – whether it’s free haircuts, discounts on textbooks, or supporting us through matching what the public are giving to get this idea off off the ground.”

We think instead of missing out on important life opportunities, Australia’s young people deserve a leg-up.  We 110% support innovative solutions taking action against homelessness, and with the help of our StreetFunders, we have set ourselves a $10k target for the “Now I am Ready” fund, to help over 50 young people.

If you want help seed fund this new project and give young people the support they need you can.  Individuals can donate here, and businesses can donate and help us match funds raised from the public by getting in touch with our CEO Adam Robinson.



Street Socceroos Ready to Kick Goals at the Homeless World Cup

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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.

For people experiencing homelessness, sport can deal with one of the biggest hurdles – social isolation. By connecting with peers, people have the opportunity to develop something many of us take for granted – social support systems. That’s not to mention the health benefits, which are a key focus of the program.

George Halkias founded the program in 2005, with a little kick start from a StreetSmart grant. It is now a nation wide, weekly program, and the team has participated in 7 Homeless World Cup’s and hosted the Melbourne 2008 games. The team are now in training for this years tournament in Oslo. 

“It’s more than a sports program – it’s about being a community that is supportive of their health and wellbeing. Health outcomes are really important to the program and sport is a great starting point.”

George and the coaching team do more than teach the game – they provide mentoring and create a culture of inclusion. Their aim is to create a place that players can feel safe to tackle the opposition, and some of their more complex issues, like mental health or substance abuse. This way, they aim to support the players to re-connect with services and get on the path out of long term homelessness.

StreetSmart is supporting Street Soccer again this month – with our StreetFunders donating coin to support players returning from the Olso Homeless World cup in September.

“Supporting players to transition back, post World Cup life, is really important. The cup has a big build up, lots of energy and excitement. But generally we find players experience a drop when they come back, like anyone does. So we are looking to strengthen the transition back – whether that’s job support, training, or whatever is needed to keep the positive momentum.

After the cup, we focus on new goals, and keep building on skills and confidence that has come from travelling the world and representing the country.”

We are hoping to raise $7,000 to fund the Street Soccer transition program – and you can chip in too here. If you are not certain how impactful a simple game of soccer can be, don’t take it from me, take it from the players:

Sometimes people don’t understand when I try to explain how important soccer is to me, but it has dead-set helped me change my life.” – Street Soccer player.

           One Month = One Project Funded


What is Causing the Homelessness Crisis?

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A protest message at Sydney’s Martin Place Homeless Camp.

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.

Successive governments have sold off (and continue to sell off) public housing stock – and have been slow to replace with a coherent system for affordable housing. There is no National Housing Strategy, and the national framework for funding the states remains in a near constant state of limbo.

Instead we have a market solution geared to support investors that puts upward pressure on prices, and pushes low income earners to the fringeswith few jobs, and little public amenity. What public housing remains, comes with a depressingly long waiting list – and much of the stock is poorly utilised.  There is a welcome growth in community owned social housing, but it will take a long time to recover what has been lost.

Put simply: outrageous prices and few choices at the lower end of the market are the leading cause of homelessness.

Add to the mix negative wages growth, and an increasingly insecure job market – the demographic of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness is larger and more diverse than we have witnessed in decades. As Stephen McDermott, CEO of CafeSmart supported service – Saint Patrick’s Community Support Centre recently told Broadsheet:

“There’s certainly more people accessing our services, that’s for sure. But it’s coming from people that mightn’t have accessed our services in the past. These are people who’ve got part-time jobs. In the past we would have been servicing those predominantly outside of the work system.”

We are hearing the same story from the majority of the services we support – demand is up and the people in need of assistance are no longer the “poorest of the poor”. Yet these same services are also witnessing a decrease in public funding. Saint Patrick’s Community Support Centre has just scrapped its weekend meals service due to lack of funding.

For women, contending with affordability is compounded by domestic violence.

According to Institute of Health and Welfare 38% of all people requesting assistance from specialist homelessness agencies were experiencing domestic violence, and in need of emergency accommodation. Almost half of those people presented with children.

Domestic violence services are among those under threat by the uncertainty surrounding the federal-state agreement for funding. State by state responses vary considerably, but NSW, Victoria and WA are witnessing the largest growth in women seeking homeless services due to domestic violence.

When we spoke to another StreetSmart supported project, Youth Futures, about their housing program for young mothers, they told us they have no public funding and have to turn many women away. The rough price of housing every young mother that presents in need of support is about $150,000. That is to keep children out of state care, families together, and young women safe. A drop in the ocean, for immeasurable social good.  

So what needs to happen?

Housing and homelessness is complex. It affects lots of people, and the reasons it impacts people are not always the same. People have different needs, and face different barriers to getting out of the homelessness trap. The needs of a woman escaping domestic violence are very different to a single man who has experienced a sudden injury and job loss, or a young indigenous person in remote Australia.

That means it requires a comprehensive response – and a diversity of local services that can provide specialised assistance to the community.

StreetSmart supports small grassroots organisations, and most of these report that they have lost public funding. De-funding community level services that provide a vital safety net is a step in the wrong direction.

Federal and State governments need to take leadership on the issue – starting with the recognition that market based responses have comprehensively failed. We need a National Housing Strategy – and a clear funding framework to revitalise the social safety net.

Most of all – we need to keep people from becoming homeless in the first place. As our CEO Adam Robinson has said:

“When more than 1 in every 200 people are homeless every night in Australia we know there is a problem. When services working on the front-lines are telling us that this figure is likely to be much higher, and we don’t have coherent public response – that is a huge cause for concern.”

Heading into National Homelessness Week – we have our most significant campaign of the year – CafeSmart which will raise funds for grassroots homelessness services helping the diversity of people in need.

We believe that Housing is a Human Right, and no one should be without a safe and secure place to call home.  You can support the CafeSmart campaign this Friday August 4th by finding a participating cafe, or donating the cost of a coffee online.



CafeSmart #LocalHeroes with On the Go Espresso

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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. 

“When I first participated in CafeSmart I learned a lot about homelessness. It’s old people, it’s young people, it’s mum’s and dad’s –  it really can impact anyone. It was a big eye opener for me.  

You meet everyone in this business, and a lot of those people are doing it tough. Through CafeSmart I learned that some of my customers have been homeless, and know how hard it is out there. 

Last year one of my customers gave $50 because he’d had a personal experience of homelessness, was back on his feet, and wanted to give back. I was blown away.”  


Dave makes use of the bright yellow CafeSmart smile to start engaging people as soon as he gets his pack in the post.

“I cover my van with the posters and postcards in the CafeSmart event pack. It’s bright, it’s in your face and engages discussion – people want to know what it is all about.  

I talk about it on social media, and I even pass out laminated postcards and asked some of my regular customers to take some pictures and get on social media too. 

A lot of people care about this issue and want to contribute. It’s all about just starting the conversation – and once you open that dialogue, not only are people putting their hand in their pocket, they are sharing their own personal stories.”

And CafeSmart does bring home the personal because it’s about locals helping their hood, and supporting services in their locality. That makes a big difference to Dave and his customers.

“It is great to know that the money raised is for local services, like Sunny Kids, which is a great organisation doing great keeping a roof over kids’ heads. People are interested helping their area. It has even motivated me to reach out to other local services, and offer them my support.”

We will be bringing you more #LocalHero stories in the coming weeks – from cafes big and small.

You can #HelpYourHood this #CafeSmart campaign by signing up your café, or looking for your local this August 4.



One Single Cup of Coffee Can Change Lives

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CafeSmart is a campaign built on the energy and commitment of the coffee industry around Australia.  Campos Coffee have been a CafeSmart Roasting Partner for six years, and have taken out our Coffee Roaster Award for the last three.

With this year’s campaign rounding the bend, I caught up with Campos Director Rafael Bartowski about what CaféSmart means for their business.

“Social good is a collective responsibility. Every business must play a part in making a better community. If everyone worked on that same principle, we would live in a very different world today.”

Campos support a number of impact initiatives in all of their growing countries – and Raf explains that when local impact is your goal, the rest comes together.

“Participating in CaféSmart makes complete sense to us. We see this as an investment in our community – we need to make sure that we are a force for positive social change.”

Campos flagship cafes are also on the CaféSmart mission– and the efforts and funds raised by their cafés has been directed into initiatives in their local neighbourhoods.

Their Melbourne café has supported some great programs, including the HoMie, the Social Studio and St Marys House of Welcome. In NSW, their Newtown café has helped to fund the local neighbourhood house and The Big Issue.

“The traceability and the localised impact is such an important part of CaféSmart. We can inform our staff and customers about the outcomes, and about the projects that their donations have supported.”

With the coveted honour of Top Roaster for three years running, Rafael is not feeling the pressure.

“We want to raise more awareness, and to raise more money, so that we make more of difference.

For us it’s not about taking the prize – we want to bring people along for the cause, and engage people with the issue of homelessness.

One single cup of coffee can change lives if it’s done well.”

You can #HelpYourHood this #CafeSmart campaign by signing up your café, or looking for your local this August 4.