Turnbull Launches Homeless App
29 January 2016 at 1:39 pm
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has launched a new mobile website that will connect homeless people, or those that are at risk of being homeless, with service providers.
Speaking at the Salvation Army in Melbourne, Turnbull said that Ask Izzy would allow people to search more than 350,000 services across Australia, just a day after a Productivity Commission report found that more than 220 people are being turned away from the same services every day.
Turnbull praised the development of Ask Izzy, an online tool that was created by Not for Profit Infoxchange, Google, realestate.com.au and News Corp Australia.
“This application, this website, is the type of innovative, collaborative and agile thinking that success in today’s world demands,” Turnbull said.
“It’s an example of using all the resources at our disposal to harness the power of technology to make a difference. [What] you’ve done is an example of what can be achieved when a social conscience, when deep love combines with technology, pragmatism and focus on the customer.
“This is an outstanding example of everything successful, progressive, compassionate, 21st century Australia will be. A country that is known for its innovation, for its compassion, for its love and support of those less fortunate.”
With a study by the University of Sydney finding that almost 80 per cent of homeless people own a smartphone, Turnbull said Ask Izzy would help connect them to people that can provide help.
“There is nothing lonelier than being homeless. That lack of connection, that lack of engagement is in many ways the hardest part, the cruelest part of homelessness. Sense of connection is a critical thing,” he said.
“It is going to also be an invaluable resource for those who support the people in need; caseworkers, social workers, volunteers.
“The dual benefit of the website is that the anonymous data it collects over time will provide a better, clearer picture of where, when and how much demand there is for services. That enables people on the frontline and it enables policy makers like myself to deliver better targeted and more impactful, practical services.”
Infoxchange CEO, David Spriggs, said Ask Izzy provided access to Australia’s most comprehensive directory of services so those who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, can find what they need.
“No-one expects to be homeless and often they don’t know where to find help,” Spriggs said.
“Their phone is a lifeline, but finding services can be difficult because information can be outdated, waiting lists long and service criteria complex.
“Ask Izzy is an easy-to-use tool developed in close collaboration with people who have experienced homelessness and leaders in the homelessness sector, to make sure it responds to their needs.”
Danny, a formerly homeless person, told the audience that the “knowledge I picked up in playing around with Ask Izzy for an hour probably took me about two to three years on the street to pick up”.
The Productivity Commission’s latest report found that state and federal governments spent more than $700 million in the last financial year on specialist homelessness services, an increase of $80 million on the previous year.