COVID-19 UPDATE: Click here for StreetSmart Australia’s response

COVID-19 Response from StreetSmart Australia – Updated 28th September 2020

By March 25, 2020September 28th, 2020News, StreetSmart News

Update 28th September 2020

During August and September we have continued to run our SmartMeals program. With generous community, philanthropic and corporate support we have expanded the program to include more regional areas while sustaining the partnership to supply meals to homeless people who were rapidly accommodated in hotels and motels. We have been delivering over 1000 meals per day from a network of over 40 cafes, restaurants and social enterprise businesses to over 50 charity partners. During August we passed the “50,000 meals delivered” tally and wrote this blog about the programs social impact

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been concerned for the welfare of vulnerable people and the essential, frontline staff that are working to assist and protect them. Many workers are in close, daily contact with vulnerable clients, providing vital support services and sometimes healthcare. Charities are seeing more people yet are under financial pressure, and assistance with staff supervision and support budgets, especially at smaller organisations, is needed. This is why we have established SmartCare, a campaign helping fund staff mental and physical well-being programs at homeless organisations. Find out more and hear from front-line managers in this blog post


Update 22nd July 2020

Many States and Territories are well on top of the COVID-19 pandemic however Victoria and some areas of NSW are struggling to contain the spread of the virus. This means that the economic effects are still being felt across Australia with many people impacted heavily by the economic downturn. Of course, vulnerable people have been hit hard, with limited capacity to adapt to changing circumstances. To help we have continued to raise funds to support our COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund Grants and our SmartMeals program.

To date we have made four rounds of grants totalling $41,000. The latest grants assisted community led food programs targeting people who have mostly slipped through the gaps in Govt support e.g. Temporary Visa Holders, casual employees with few hours, refugees and international students.  Read our Grants blog here.

We have also focussed your donation support to run SmartMeals. To date 23,830 meals have been provided through 11 partnerships between charities and cafes/restaurants keeping people fed and some people employed. Many of these meals are supporting people who have been provided with hotel or motel accommodation having previously been rough sleeping. It’s a vital program to keep the vulnerable safe. Read about SmartMeals here.

Thank you to everyone who has donated to provide these services.

Updated 16th June 2020

Through strong evidence based action by Governments and community Australia has done well in containing the spread of COVID-19.  During the early stages of the pandemic StreetSmart advocated for and supported action to accommodate thousands of rough sleepers in hotel and motel accommodation, the raising of New Start to the improved JobSeeker payment and a rent moratorium  These policies have protected vulnerable people effectively. We encourage Governments of all levels to maintain these policies which have protected the most vulnerable in our community.

On the 1st April StreetSmart established our COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.  We have been overwhelmed by the community support shown and have acted quickly to support vulnerable community members through a number of initiatives. To date we have made $31,000 of small community grants targeting groups impacted by COVID-19. These grants have supported three medical outreach services, four DV services and four youth organisations.  We also established our SmartMeals program which is targeted at helping plug the gaps in the food security system. To date 16,370 meals have been provided, mostly to people isolating in motels, hotels, and boarding houses, with limited cooking facilities. We will continue to provide meals for as long as they are needed and funding can be found. We will also continue to make small grants to support people experiencing the full impact of this crisis.  Our responses been made possible by our generous supporters – so thank you for standing with us.

Updated 14 April 2020

The team at StreetSmart Australia is deeply concerned about how COVID-19 is impacting people experiencing homelessness and vulnerable people at risk. What we do know, is that Australia has a strong history of community spirit and we will be doing our part to support the small, local, grassroots organisations who will now be on the frontline of this health crisis. The situation is complex and shifting daily, and unfortunately will be placing even more strain on already stretched homeless services. Before this pandemic even began, more than 116,000 people were without a home around the country.

We know that poverty, losing your job and being unable to pay rent are key factors in people becoming homeless. We have been pleased to see how quickly State and Federal Governments have moved to support vulnerable people, increasing New Start (something that has been needed for many years), preventing evictions and introducing the JobKeeper scheme. We have also seen funding for homelessness and DV services, along with broader support for the charity sector. We have also seen hundreds of people, who rough sleep, being housed temporarily housed in hotels and other facilities. These are positive strategies however some people have missed out and some funding does not start immediately, leaving thousands of people vulnerable or just surviving, so more needs to be done.

At StreetSmart we have worked quickly to fast track a round of COVID-19 grants, supporting smaller services to respond to the crisis. Last week 33 community grants worth $191,150, funded by DineSmart 2019 donations, were distributed in VIC, NSW, QLD and SA. Our focus was to assist the most vulnerable and many people previously rough sleeping have been assisted into temporary housing.
“Your ability to fast track the grant will certainly make a difference to our organisation and to others like us who are delivering front line services. We really appreciate your generous support during this health crisis!” Margaret Yuille, Micah Project Brisbane

As part of this grants round we also moved quickly to respond to the looming food security crisis funding organisations addressing the immediate need, who are also facing internal challenges of volunteer shortages. Both FareShare and Two Good received grants.
We are saddened by the impact this crisis is having on our hospitality partners and quickly recognised that their spare capacity could be deployed to meet growing food insecurity. We have set up a pilot program to meet both local demand for meals for vulnerable people and also secure hospitality jobs at some of our café/restaurant partners. SmartMeals has been running for 2 weeks and has provided 1000 meals to vulnerable people.

Stay tuned because we will continue to provide updates on how we are supporting those most vulnerable in our community during this crisis.

A message from a community partner providing homelessness services in Sydney…

“COVID-19 is going to have a disproportionately greater impact on people experiencing homelessness than the general community. Our key challenge at this time is to support people who are experiencing homelessness (in all forms) to remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible. A pragmatic but heartbreaking assumption that we have is that if the ‘curve isn’t flattened’ and the health system cannot cope with demand, our clients will be the first to miss out.
To help with keeping people experiencing homelessness as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, organisations such as Haymarket have focused heavily on maintaining business continuity. Simply, we need ongoing access to the appropriate resources (staff, capital, and supply chain) to deliver critical services for as long as the pandemic response requires. Since Monday this week, we’ve had almost double the amount of people calling ad requesting accommodation. Supply issues are driven by our staff having to self-isolate, and the general public (quite rightly) ensuring they are safe and prepared in an environment of uncertainty.” –
Peter Valpiani, CEO, The Haymarket Foundation.


Originally posted Wednesday 25 March 2020