Gathering for Homelessness Week

(Supplied: Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health/Chloe Smith Photography)

Elsie Lange

There are more than 116,000 people experiencing homelessness in Australia on any given night, and a local health organisation is inviting you to a soup kitchen during Homelessness Week to raise awareness.

Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health (SCCH), who help people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, is inviting people to come and be a part of a community lunch in Kyneton on Tuesday, August 2.

Homelessness Week runs from August 1 to 7, with an aim to educate people about what homelessness looks like and how they can make a difference. Homelessness is varied and each experience is unique – from rough sleeping to couch surfing, to sleeping in cars or tents.

SCCH housing team leader Kate Weston said there were only about 45 public housing properties across the whole of the Macedon Ranges.

“These have long-term tenants in and only one or two become vacant each year,” she said.

“In the past 12 months we have assisted over 200 families and individuals, 28 of those have been young people under the age of 25.

“We have also responded to 48 emergency accommodation requests.”

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 census found there were 1648 unoccupied dwellings in the Macedon Ranges.

With interest rates high, rental prices going up and the costs of utilities, fuel and groceries skyrocketing, SCCH expects housing insecurity to increase.

The organisation’s small team of housing workers assist people in finding short-term emergency accommodation in a hotel or motel, as well as case management and advocacy to help improve a person’s situation and find long-term housing.

But SCCH urges that options are “increasingly limited”, and is seeing housing affordability hit people across the whole community.

“Often people have no option but to move out of the area in order to find affordable accommodation,” Ms Weston said.

“But this is far from ideal and causes great anxiety as families are separated from the community that they know and where their support network, schools and jobs are.”

The soup kitchen is on Tuesday, August 2, from noon until 1pm at the Kyneton Mechanics Institute, 81 Mollison Street.