Call to Wealthy Australians on Homelessness
30 June 2010 at 12:13 pm
Australian Entrepreneur and philanthropist Dick Smith is calling on wealthy Australians to get behind programs to address homelessness and he's already putting his money where his mouth is.
Dick Smith's call comes with the announcement that he has donated $1 million for the purchase of three houses to help Salvos to address increasing homelessness in NSW.
The Salvation Army has recorded a massive 65% increase in the number of people across NSW who report being homeless or sleeping rough, in cars or tents.
The numbers have increased from around 1,200 people in 2008 to nearly 2,000 people in 2010.
According to The Salvation Army, the actual numbers could be at least two to three times higher, as many of those who present for help have family members, including children, living with them.
Dick Smith, a long-term supporter of the Salvos, says he was staggered to hear that in a wealthy country like Australia, the Salvos have seen a huge increase in the numbers of families and individuals experiencing homelessness and in his view this is unacceptable.
Smith's $1 million donation will enable The Salvation Army to purchase three houses in regional NSW.
Smith says the homes are intended to give families in crisis a place to stay while they get back on their feet.
He says the aim is to help prevent families getting to that desperate stage where they’re homeless and experiencing the kinds of conditions he's been hearing about, such as families of four sleeping in their car for weeks on end.
Dick Smith says he's calling upon his fellow wealthy Australians to also dig deep to help address this problem.
The Salvos say the homeless increases have been even more dramatic in some regional areas of NSW and in the ACT, including:
- ACT – 98% increase
- Newcastle/ Hunter – 100% increase
- Central Coast – 110% increase
- Western NSW – 85% increase
- Western Sydney – 80% increase
According to The Salvation Army figures, the main leap occurred from 2008 to 2009 during the peak of the economic downturn. However, recent figures (at 31 May 2010) suggest the numbers have continued to increase from 2009 to 2010.
Major Jeff Winterburn of The Salvation Army says this highlights that those people they assist may still be struggling from the effects of the economic downturn.
The Salvation Army also provides crisis and supported accommodation centres which provide around 2,000 beds for the homeless nationally each week.