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StreetCount: Homelessness takes collaboration

StreetCount 2018: Homelessness takes collaboration

7 August 2018

By Emma Henningsen

On a cold Wednesday night in June, in a meeting room upstairs and to the back of Melbourne Town Hall, a group of volunteers met to learn about their role for the StreetCount 2018.

The volunteers came from different agencies in the homelessness sector – Sacred Heart Mission, Unison, Launch Housing, to name a few – volunteering their free time to complete surveys with people who were sleeping rough in the Cities of Melbourne, Port Phillip, Yarra, Stonnington, and Maribyrnong.

The volunteers – myself among them – sat on hard plastic chairs at foldable white tables as we waited to be briefed on the questions we would be asking participants.

While we waited, we talked – networked, for want of a better term. We put faces to many of the voices and email sign offs of workers from other agencies who are working together to end homelessness. We spoke about the programs we are working in, the organisations we work for, the work that still needs to be done.

It takes collaboration to end homelessness

The homelessness sector, particularly the crisis services, is based on referrals – referrals for transitional and community housing, mental and physical health supports, volunteer opportunities, English language lessons, job providers; the list is endless and as varied as the individual needs of our clients. Without the strong organisational relationships, partnerships, and linkages Sacred Heart Mission has, accessing support for our clients would be near impossible.

I reflected on all of this: how the sector works together and in particular how we came together for StreetCount, which provides information about real people experiencing rough sleeping and street homelessness. It doesn't surprise me that workers from the homelessness sector would offer their time outside of work to support this process. They were all people in the field, who work with clients experiencing homelessness,and who recognise the value of data and evidence for accessing much-needed funding and Government support. We recognise the need to advocate and push for change, not only for our individual clients but on a greater systemic level.

Homelessness Week 2018

August 6 to 12, 2018 is Homelessness Week – a nationally recognised week coordinated by Homelessness Australia to bring attention to, and raise awareness of, the issues faced by people experiencing homelessness and the actions and strategies required to solve the homelessness crisis.

The theme for this year’s National Homelessness Conference, as part of Homelessness Week, is Ending Homelessness Together. This theme names what we as workers already do – we work together to facilitate the best possible outcomes for our clients. It is a theme that acknowledges no one person can do this alone and we are stronger together.

It was raining when we walked out of the volunteer information session and into the Melbourne night. I left feeling proud of the work we do, even while knowing there is so much more to be done.

We know ending homelessness takes collaboration so we are asking staff, volunteers, supporters and partners to support Everybody’s Home, a national advocacy campaign in the lead up to the Federal Election calling for: a National Housing Strategy; Investment in affordable housing; increased rights for renters; and increased rental assistance for those who need it most.

Sign up here if you want to support the campaign and ‘End Homelessness Together’.

Download the full report of the City of Port Phillip Street Count here.

Sacred Heart Mission respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we operate our services. We pay our respects to the ongoing living cultures of Aboriginal peoples, and to Elders past, present and future.
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