Homelessness Still a Critical Issue for Melbourne
Friday, 27th August 2010 at 3:05 pm
With 15,000 living on the streets, homelessness is still a critical issue for Melbourne, according to Swinburne University’s Associate Professor David MacKenzie.
Speaking at the ‘Melbourne’s Road Home Forum’, organised by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Professor MacKenzie says the type of person sleeping rough has changed.
Professor MacKenzie says research from the Salvation Army’s 24/7 program challenges the commonly held stereotype that most homeless people are either young or over 50.
MacKenzie says 60 percent of people sleeping rough are aged between 21 and 40 years, and 70 percent are male.
The research found that about 40 percent of people rough sleeping had become homeless in the last three months.
MacKenzie says these people are not chronically homeless, but nothing else was available when they experienced a crisis.
He says a form of early intervention in these cases can lift people out of the cycle of homelessness before it begins.
Professor MacKenzie’s 24/7 research also showed:
- 40 per cent of people were rough sleeping for a short time (up to three months)
- 30 per cent had been homeless for a much longer period with rough sleeping a new experience they found very stressful
- 30 per cent of rough sleepers assisted by 24/7 were chronically homeless and spent several months rough sleeping.
- 143 people were assisted by 24/7 over the past year, and 25-30 of these people had been rough sleeping for more than a year.
Andrew Chappell, CEO of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, says Melbourne’s Road Home was launched in 2008 to address the issue of homelessness, committing $7 million to charities and welfare agencies who are working to reduce homelessness in Melbourne.
Chappell says approximately 15,000 people are homeless across Melbourne.
Chappell says the Foundation has funded the Salvation Army’s 24/7 program and Sacred Heart Mission’s Journey to Social Inclusion and both programs are having significant impact.
He says a ‘whole of community’ collaborative approach to ending homelessness is needed and forums such as Melbourne’s Road Home will keep homelessness at the top of the social issues agenda.
Three hundred representatives from across Melbourne’s business, philanthropic, community and government sectors attended the Forum. Guest speakers included Wayne Kayler-Thompson, CEO VECCI; Bryan Lipmann AM, CEO Wintringham; Danny Blay, Executive Officer Male Family Violence Prevention Association of Victoria; Janet Jukes, Executive Director Youth Development Australia; and Andrew Pegler of Andrew Pegler Media.