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