New 'Recovery Fund' for COVID-19 and natural disasters. Click here
Frontline homelessness case work is often distressing and enormously challenging work which can result in anguish, stress and a feeling of hopelessness for workers. Staff burnout happens regularly. Then along came COVID-19.
“Receiving SmartMeals makes me feel full of love… It might seem like a small act but you’re effectively changing the lives of people.” – Lana
People facing homelessness leave a shelter for a hotel. (ABC News: Scott Mitchell)
It’s Homelessness Week
and we are at a pivotal time for homelessness and housing policy in Australia. What we have seen happen since late March has been nothing but monumental and presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the country’s homelessness system. We need to make sure we continue this revolution for the homelessness sector and not go back to the way it was before the pandemic hit.
Visa holders William and Lorena working at FareShare
In March, as COVID-19 hit, we saw food relief programs, community kitchens and soup vans ceasing to operate. Anxiety about the virus, social distancing recommendations and a dependence on vulnerable older volunteers meant quick closures. This left vulnerable people without their usual support and social connections. We also heard from our hospitality partners that they had been hit hard and many vulnerable staff were likely to suffer dis-proportionally.
The EAD Team prepping meals
The Hospitality sector has been devastated by COVID-19. 100,000’s of workers have been laid off, or had hours drastically cut. Last week we made five more grants from our COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund all targeting the basic needs of these workers, many who aren’t covered by Government support.
Back in March as the COVID-19 crisis loomed we reached out to our community partners to listen to their concerns and gauge how to support them best. Nearly all confirmed that food security was a major problem for their homeless and disadvantaged clients. As soon as lock down was announced charity meals programs shut due to social distancing regulations and older volunteers protecting their health. Our response to this urgent food security challenge was to make a number of food relief related grants including supporting FareShare, a long term partner, and we also moved quickly to establish the SmartMeals program.
Photo Credit: Foyer Shepparton
Young people in their teens and twenties maybe less likely to contract or be at risk from COVID-19, but many will be affected by the societal and financial fall out for years to come. This pandemic has and will have a dramatic impact on young people’s lives, that why this week we made four grants to youth based organisations from our COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. Read More
May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention month
There is often a misconception that homelessness only affects people sleeping rough on the streets. Where in reality this only represents a small number of people living without a safe place to sleep. A significant number of the community partners we support provide services for victims of domestic violence. Women and children fleeing dangerous circumstances may have to leave without any belongings and need immediate care. And the current pandemic is placing even more strain on already stretched services.
“Unfortunately, family violence is more prevalent during and after times of disaster such as bushfires and COVID-19. As a result, we are expecting to see an increase in the number of women and children seeking our service and needing safe accommodation,” said Emma, Family Violence Support Worker, Women’s Liberation Halfway House.
Photo Credit: Sunny Street
This week we have provided three grants totalling $11,000 from our COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. We have moved fast to distribute funds to make sure people are getting the support they need. All three grants are supporting the urgent demand for health responses right now for the most vulnerable. StreetMed in Western Sydney, All Round Health in Hobart and Sunny Street on Sunshine Coast
specialise in delivering healthcare services all year round to people who are homeless.
UPDATED 28.04.2020 – 2650 meals for vulnerable people provided
Right now charity meals programs are shut across the country. With gatherings restricted and older volunteers protecting their health, food security for vulnerable Australians is an emerging challenge. At the same time restaurants and cafes are closing. This is making workers with limited resources, vulnerable to poverty, hunger and homelessness.