CQ's homelessness issues addressed by region's governments
HOMELESSNESS in the Rockhampton region is a tragic problem and both local and state government needs to step up and do more, according to local care organisation Anglicare.
Anglicare service delivery manager Carol Godwin, whose organisation was primarily responsible for addressing homelessness, revealed a number of obstacles impeding their efforts.
She said crisis accommodation was needed on the Capricorn Coast, AnglicareCQ needed rate discounts from local councils on housing, a Rockhampton drop-in centre should be established and the State Government needed to help more with housing costs.
Livingstone Shire Council
A council spokesman said council's Rates Rebates and Remissions Policy provided a rates remission for approved organisations, including not-for-profit organisations that provide social housing.
"Council has made provision for three rating categories to assist charitable or not-for-profit organisations,” the spokesman said.
LSC offers a range of services and support for disadvantaged members of the community through its Community Centre at John St in Yeppoon.
"The Community Centre provides residents with a public community hub space which is safe, welcoming, vibrant, accessible, and available to all,” the spokesman said.
"The Community Centre also provides important linkages, capacity building, educational and partnership opportunities for individuals requiring support, community services providers, community organisations, and clubs and groups.
"An important initiative delivered through the Community Centre is the ICare program, which creates a streamlined approach for donating items or money to residents doing it tough.”
"The items most helpful for the ICare programme include women's and men's personal hygiene products, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, soap, toothpaste, school supplies and washing powder.
The Dignity First Community Centre Washroom was opened at the Community Centre in 2017 and has been fitted with a private washing machine, dryer, toilet and shower for those in need, at no cost.
Rockhampton Regional Council
Rockhampton Region Mayor Margaret Strelow said council did a range of work to support those struggling in the community.
"In terms of rate exemptions, affordable and lower cost housing is not something council is usually involved with as it is an area generally supported by other levels of government,” Cr Strelow said.
"We do, however, provide rate concessions and exemptions to a number of organisations that match our policy requirements by not charging a fee for their services, including the Home Support Association, the Endeavour Foundation, and the Women's Health Centre Rockhampton.”
Cr Strelow said they were proud to co-ordinate the annual Homeless Connect event.
"We provide a venue for the event itself, organise the collection and sorting of donations, manage the media and marketing, and publish a booklet listing all the support services available across the region,” she said.
"This year we had over 300 people come to the Showgrounds to get a meal, clothes, food parcels, toiletries, haircuts, health checks and more.
"Not-for-profit organisations that work with the homeless are also eligible to apply for our Community Assistance Program, which grants local organisations and causes more than $200,000 every year.”
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga said people living on the Capricorn Coast could access crisis accommodation through Queensland Government-funded agencies in Rockhampton.
"The Department of Housing and Public Works has allocated $5.25 million in 2019-20 to the seven local specialist homelessness services who provide a range of supports, including crisis accommodation to people who are experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness,” Mrs Lauga said.
"The department has provided 26 properties under the Crisis Accommodation Program to enable three of these services to provide temporary supported accommodation.
"Housing and Public Works also provides 11 properties under the Crisis Accommodation Program to support the delivery of a Specialist Homelessness Service for women and children experiencing domestic and family violence in Rockhampton.”
A Homelessness Program funds the delivery of temporary supported accommodation services to women and children accommodated in these properties.
Mrs Lauga said if a specific request was made for accommodation on the Capricorn Coast, this would be investigated by the agencies.
"In relation to a drop-in centre, we encourage any organisation wanting to run this to apply for Dignity First funding,” she said.
"Round four of the Dignity First Fund will see a further $2.5 million made available to organisations working to reduce the impact of homelessness, and help people live with dignity by targeting projects that improve life skills, tenancy skills, education and employment opportunities.”
Across CQ, 60 new homes will be built in the first five years of the Housing Construction Jobs Program at a cost of $35.5 million.
Mrs Lauga said $5.4 million was being invested to fund eight specialist homelessness services in the Rockhampton Housing Service Centre region.. These could include mobile outreach services, food trucks, community kitchen upgrades, drop-in centres and backpacks containing essential supplies.
"Through the Dignity First Fund, $56,000 has been provided for local organisations to help provide locals with pathways out of homelessness.
"More than $996,000 has been invested through the Rockhampton Housing Service Centre to fund 951 bond loans and 309 rental grants.”
Those who wish to donate to LSC's homeless support programs can phone 4913 3840. or drop in to the Community Centre, 80 John Street, Yeppoon, during business hours.
Anyone who needs housing help can contact the Rockhampton Housing Service Centre on 4848 7000, at 209 Bolsover Street in Rockhampton or email firstname.lastname@example.org