Ma­jor walk for home­less

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - NEWS - STEPHENS

THE Sal­va­tion Army’s Bren­dan Not­tle is on the walk of a life­time for home­less­ness.

The army ma­jor was in Beech­worth on Mon­day on his 40-day, 700-kilo­me­tre ‘Walk the walk’ from Mel­bourne to Can­berra to build com­mu­nity and cap­i­tal aware­ness of home­less­ness.

“Be­ing home­less of­ten starts many years ear­lier in the sub­urbs and ru­ral ar­eas be­cause of men­tal health, fam­ily vi­o­lence and es­pe­cially child­hood abuse – and that of­ten leads to drug ad­dic­tion,” Ma­jor Not­tle said.

“I have seen the num­ber of peo­ple sleep­ing rough jump 74 per cent be­tween 2014 and 2016 and that was not on the agenda of any of our politi­cians dur­ing the last fed­eral elec­tion.

“I de­cided that some­thing out of the box must be done to tackle this se­ri­ous and trau­matic prob­lem.”

Ma­jor Not­tle said the Sal­va­tion Army in Mel­bourne was work­ing flat out to find ac­com­mo­da­tion for home­less peo­ple yet the num­bers liv­ing rough were still grow­ing.

“Along the way I have been hear­ing first­hand sto­ries about the chal­lenges and dif­fi­cul­ties that com­mu­ni­ties are fac­ing as they tackle the com­plex is­sues con­tribut­ing to home­less­ness,” he said.

“When you sit down and start talk­ing with peo­ple you be­gin to re­alise that their home­less­ness very rarely starts in the city.

“Some­times peo­ple choose to self-med­i­cate with pre­scrip­tion drugs and other drugs be­cause the emo­tional pain is so great.”

Ma­jor Not­tle said he had ben­e­fit­ted from en­cour­age­ment for his trek.

“Just the other side of Yea a woman pulled up in her car and got out and was very emo­tional,” he said.

“She started to share her story about be­ing home­less for a long pe­riod of time and how she worked re­ally hard to get back on her feet.

“She said she was so thank­ful that this walk was hap­pen­ing be­cause she never wanted any­one to go through what she had been through.”

Ma­jor Not­tle aims to talk with par­lia­men­tar­i­ans when he walks into Can­berra.

“We need to de­velop more af­ford­able hous­ing be­cause there are no ser­vices in some ar­eas or they are clearly stretched,” he said.

“Rather than peo­ple fall­ing through the gaps there needs to be strate­gic think­ing about where the gaps are.”

Beech­worth Sal­va­tion Army cap­tain Pauline Mid­dle­ton said there were peo­ple in Beech­worth and other North East towns without a fixed ad­dress.

“They find them­selves couch surf­ing and some­times liv­ing in the bush out of sight and find­ing tem­po­rary hous­ing is a big prob­lem,” she said.

Peo­ple can sup­port Ma­jor Not­tle’s ‘Walk the walk’ for the home­less by sign­ing a pe­ti­tion.

The Sal­va­tion Army hopes to se­cure 105,237 sig­na­tures – one for ev­ery Aus­tralian who is home­less ev­ery night.

PHOTO: Wendy Stephens

WALK ON: Sal­va­tion Army ma­jor Bren­dan Not­tle leaves Beech­worth in the rain to fin­ish Mon­day’s walk to Yackan­dan­dah.

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