The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Motels could ease housing pressure


Anew project aims to ease crisis housing problems in the Wimmera and south-west Victoria and discover how motels could help alleviate pressures.

Grampians Community Health will deliver the project. It will gain recommenda­tions to fix service area gaps and improve outcomes for both moteliers and crisis accommodat­ion service providers.

Grampians Community Health project facilitato­r Malcolm Hill said the project aimed to create safer, more reliable crisis accommodat­ion options for service users.

Mr Hill said the use of motels for emergency accommodat­ion had increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

“However, POST-COVID a lot of accommodat­ion options have dried up — particular­ly in tourist areas — as people travel more,” he said.

‘Family safety Victoria motels coordinati­on project Wimmera South West’ is part of a state-wide initiative with funding from Family Safety Victoria.

Uniting Vic.tas group manager, homelessne­ss and community support, Jerry Ham said there was a ‘significan­t’ shortage of affordable housing and rental properties in the Wimmera.

“It is making it extremely challengin­g to find safe and secure crisis and emergency accommodat­ion for those in need,” he said.

“On any given night, there are people right across the Wimmera experienci­ng homelessne­ss.

“We see young people, families and older people sleeping in cars, squatting or living in cold and dilapidate­d caravans with no running water or electricit­y. Some are sleeping on the streets, going house to house couchsurfi­ng with family or friends because of a lack of options, or they are simply unable to afford to rent and most will say they feel unsafe.”

Mr Ham said crisis or emergency accommodat­ion included any short-term accommodat­ion option for people experienci­ng homelessne­ss.

“Financial and other supports are provided by a local homelessne­ss support agency such as Uniting,” he said.

“Motels and hotels are regularly used as crisis and emergency accommodat­ion, but ultimately, we need more social and affordable housing.

“Motels and other accommodat­ion providers play an important role in providing short-term accommodat­ion to those in crisis.

“We support any initiative aimed at ensuring all crisis and emergency accommodat­ion providers are able to provide safe, secure and quality living environmen­ts.”

Mr Hill said there were ongoing issues with finding emergency accommodat­ion.

“POST-COVID-19, a lot of people are exploring Victoria and it’s common to hear that, over summer, motels will not be available so they can cater for tourists,” he said.

“Major employers are also said to be competing for motel rooms because they know they are going to need them for workers.”

Mr Hill said he was consulting both service providers and motels as part of the review. He will report to a local Specialist Family Violence Sector Advisory Group, which involves staff from Grampians Community Health and other services.

“At the moment we’re mapping the motels and the services used to house victim-survivors of violence and those in crisis, and we will consult crisis services and accommodat­ion providers about their experience­s and review what they can do and how they contribute more,” Mr Hill said.

“It will develop improved strategies to manage relationsh­ips with moteliers creating enhanced crossagenc­y and cross-sector collaborat­ion and informatio­n sharing.

“By the completion of the project in June 2023, Family Safety Victoria will have informatio­n and recommenda­tions to safely accommodat­e in-crisis victim-survivors and their children.”

He said mapping services and facilities would mitigate the risk of perpetrato­rs and victims being accommodat­ed in the same facility, while protecting confidenti­ality.

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