NO PLACE TO GO
HOMELESSNESS may seem like an unimaginable circumstance to some, but the reality is, it’s happening right here on our doorstep, in our very own neighbourhoods.
Last year, more than 1,249 people sought help by contacting Orana Support Service (OSS), a local specialist homeless service operating in Dubbo, Wellington and Narromine.
A shocking statistic is that 19.6 per cent of these people sought assistance from OSS as a result of relationship or family breakdown and 11.8 per cent asked for help following domestic or family violence.
Tina Reynolds, manager at OSS in Dubbo, said homelessness is one of Australia’s biggest issues and one that affects myriad citizens.
“One of the most significant social problems in Australia is homelessness,” she told Dubbo Photo News.
“In Australia the homeless population has become more diverse over the past 20 years with more young people, women and families experiencing homelessness.”
The OSS works hard to support those in need and prioritise those who are already homeless, at risk of homelessness and victims of domestic violence, by delivering innovative services and addressing the underlying needs of clients.
Funded by Family and Community Services (FACS) and by working closely with Housing NSW and Compass Housing, OSS aims to address client issues and work towards securing long term accommodation.
The organisation also operates a refuge for adults age over 18 years who are homelessness, as well as a domestic violence refuge with five bedrooms for women and children who have suffered family violence.
National Homelessness Week falls on August 4-10 this year and with more than 116,000 Aussies homeless right now, the community is urged to bring the issue into the spotlight and onto the agenda of local, state and national governments.
According to the national peak body, Homelessness Australia, there are currently 195,000 Australians on social housing waitlists and despite increased funding, last year one in three people were turned away from homelessness services due to a lack of resources.
As an attempt to reverse these statistics, the theme for Homelessness Awareness Week 2019 is “Housing ends homelessness”, and Homelessness Australia is encouraging Australians to be noisy enough to get political leaders to listen and make the changes needed to end the epidemic.
During the first week of August, the OSS is joining forces with other support agencies to host events and for bring the topic of homelessness to the forefront.
With events planned in Wellington (Tuesday 6 at Cameron Park), Narromine (Wednesday 7 at Dundas Oval) and Dubbo (Thursday 8 at Macquarie Lions Park), there will be a free barbeque, a petting zoo, kids craft activities and games.
Other organisations involved include Mission Australia, Communities for Children, Legal Aid, Centrelink, Uniting, Wellways, Housing NSW, Compass Housing, Connecting Community Services, Headspace and Gagamin Aboriginal Men’s Group.
Homelessness NSW’S Senior Policy and Research Officer, Digby Hughes, believes Australia can see the end of homelessness if communities continue to work together like this.
“It is good to see local homeless services working together to highlight the issues around homelessness and that we can end it,” he said.
“In Australia nobody should be homeless, we know that a supply of affordable housing, with appropriate support can end homelessness,” he said.
“All governments need to work towards ending homelessness.”
Orana Support Service manager, Tina Reynolds