The following story is not unusual.
“I am 17 and used to live with my mum and her boyfriend but I had to leave. Mum’s boyfriend used to hit me when mum wasn’t around and that was a lot because she worked at a pub and was often working over 40 hours a week. He used to scream at me and make me clean up after him and his friends. I didn’t like his friends, some of them would stare at me all the time and it scared me.
I knew mum wouldn’t believe me if I told her so one day when she was at work and her boyfriend was asleep I took the backpack I had packed under my bed and ran away.
I had no place I could go, and I couldn’t return home, I would get into more trouble. I stayed the first few nights at some friends’ houses but I didn’t want their parents to know I was around in case my mum was looking for me. I couldn’t go back there.
I stopped going to school, just in case my mum turned up or called the school and the teachers told her I was there.
I went to Centrelink to talk to them about getting some money as I knew that my friends wouldn’t be able to help me for long.
It was really hard because I had to prove that I was not a dependent. This took a really long time and I thought for a while that it was never going to happen.
Finally I started receiving payments but keeping them was so hard. It is really hard to look for a job when you’ve got nowhere to live or shower.
I decided that I would look for a house but the real estates would ask how much I was getting paid and they wouldn’t even put my applications in, when I asked why I haven’t been accepted, they said that I wouldn’t be able to afford the rent.”
Youth homelessness continues to be one of the major issues that Grampians Community Health and other social support agencies are confronted with in our community.
Homelessness week is held from 4th to 10th of August 2019, and Grampians Community Health asks all people to consider some of the underlying causes of why our young people, just like in the true story above find themselves homeless.
The disparity between Youth allowance or Newstart allowance and the average cost of housing is huge, Australia wide, this disparity exists even with low income earners and rental prices.
- A person on Youth Allowance under 18 years of age living at home earns $249.20 fortnightly, and if a person on Youth Allowance under 18 years of age living out of home earns $455.20 fortnightly.
- A person on Newstart allowance that is a single adult with no children earns $489.70 fortnightly, and a person on Newstart allowance that is single with dependent children earn $529.80 fortnightly.
- The average cost of a 1 bedroom place in the Stawell area is $200 per week, on average rentals are costing on average $165 to $440 per week through Australia.
As part of moving into a rental there must be 2 weeks and Bond paid prior to collecting the keys, which isn’t always thought about either.
If you add on the average cost of amenities it is understandable that our homelessness rate has increased by 11% in the past 8 years.
Grampians Community Health has confidential support services for people who are, or may be facing homelessness. Anyone wishing to access any of the Grampians Community Health services can easily do so by calling 5358 7400.
We are holding a breakfast on Friday the 9th August 8AM at 8-22 Patrick Street Stawell, to help bring awareness of homelessness to the community, if you would like to join us, please call 03 5358 7400 to RSVP
Mental Awareness Sessions
Jeremey Forbes from HALT – Hope and Assistance to Local Tradies
Knowing what to look for and where to go for help in the Grampians and Wimmera is behind a new program being brought to the area this week.
Money raised from the Healthy Blokes Over 40’s Football Match held in Ararat last August is being utilised to promote Men’s Health, and mental health in particular. HALT (Hope and Assistance to Local Tradies) will be partnering with Grampians Community Health to provide this unique insight into dealing with mental health and local responses.
Greg Little CEO of Grampians Community Health said that a commitment was made by Grampians Community Health to use the funds from the extremely well supported Over 40’s Footy match to hold Mental Health awareness raising sessions and First Aid courses at places where men frequent.
“The HALT sessions are the first step in honouring this commitment and investing in the mental health of blokes in our community” said Mr Little.
HALT was developed by Jeremy Forbes from Castlemaine, a builder and an artist with the support of a concerned community. Jeremy went on to host the first ‘SAVE YOUR BACON’ Brekky in November 2013, for those in the building industry. It all started in a timber yard of a local hardware store, Rotarians behind the BBQ cooking a breakfast of bacon and eggs and a free goodie bag for all who attended.
Jermey will host next week’s sessions in the region, conveying a positive message and awareness to workers that are traditionally less likely to come forward when faced with their own mental health issues.
Jeremey Forbes explains that HALT aims to remind people they are valued by their community, and direct them to support services, both local and national, should they need them.
Kathleen Doole from Grampians Community Health said that although HALT’s original focus was on the trade sector we are excited to extend the sessions in the Grampians to local football clubs, Men’s sheds, and Local businesses.
Grampians Community Health are also holding an open session in Stawell on Wednesday 5th June at 12pm until 1pm for anyone who might be interested in hearing Jeremy’s inspirational talk. For more information about the Grampians Community Health Halt events or if you are interested in having a HALT session later on in the year please contact Grampians Community Health 03 5358 7400.
Anyone wishing to access any of the Grampians Community Health services can easily do so by calling 03 5358 7400.
Launch of Connecting2Community in the Grampians Wimmera Region
Connecting2Community is an initiative between Grampians Community Health and Ballarat Community Health is bringing a new peer designed and led model of mental health support to the Grampians/Wimmera region. Called Connecting2community, the program has been launched with the support of the Western Victorian Primary Health Network.
Launching the service in Horsham, the key drivers of the program were PHN CEO Dr Leanne Beagley, Sean Duffy CEO of Ballarat Community Health BCH and Greg Little CEO of Grampians Community Health as well as the peer workers who will deliver the service, Lucy Beaton, Shannan Flood, Rick Corney and Sara Cunningham-Smith who are all individuals with a lived experience and hold a formal qualification in Community Services.
It is great to see local services coming together, Grampians Community Health Chief Executive Greg Little said. “There was a gap identified in the service provision for people experiencing mental illness and a joint initiative between BCH and GCH has enabled us to deliver the exciting new program to the Wimmera and surrounds.”
The program is designed to help people tackle their mental illness through support, encouragement and advice as needed, to foster hope and determination for change. The program will see individuals paired with a peer worker to work together for six sessions to identify a goal and achieve an outcome.
“We will help individuals to identify and achieve goals big or small to work towards a rewarding positive future. That is why we are so excited about this program, this is an opportunity for people in our region to get the support they need when they are struggling. The peer support relates to the individuals and what they are experiencing”, said Grampians Community Health peer-worker Shannan Flood.
Mr Little said that “The program is being delivered across the Wimmera including Horsham, Stawell and Ararat with the other three workers based at Ballarat Community Health”.
“The great thing about this program is that people can self-refer to the service by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling the number 1800 056 400, and they can also ask their GP to make a referral” said Mr Little.
Anyone wishing to access any of the Grampians Community Health services can easily do so by calling 5358 7400.
It is National Carers Week; we celebrate and thank all Carers.
A Proud Mum of Foster Kids!
Being a Foster Carer has been one of my most rewarding achievements. Seeing a child walk in to your home scared and insecure is heart breaking. Seeing a child walk out of your home with a smile on their face ready to face the world – that is what I call beauty!
Grampians Community Health is excited to hear about the continuing commitment from the state government to support some of our most vulnerable young people who live in out of home care. Numbers of young people requiring, short, medium, long term and even permanent care are increasing therefore we need more carers to share in this much needed commitment.
GCH believes in and supports equality for all, in particular for those that often have little or no voice and face a range of challenges. For young people in out of home care and who live in rural and remote areas, the challenges can be even more significant. Having been part of this great community for over 30 years, GCH is aware of the challenges that living in rural and remote areas can be as well as the great opportunities that exist in our region. GCH offers a range of supports to people who might already be or thinking of fostering. We provide a range of supports to Carers, access to counselling, links to social opportunities, mental health support, education connections and an intake and referral system to meet everyone’s needs.
In our local community, the out of home care agency that provides a range of foster care options is Uniting Care. GCH values the amazing work that Uniting undertake in this space and we are always happy to provide complimentary services to support carers, young people and extended family and friends. GCH recognises that being a foster carer can be a challenging and rewarding opportunity. The commitment from the state government to provide extra support to carers is welcome and acknowledges the different world we now live in and the make-up of our community is diverse and always changing, therefore policy needs to reflect that change.
Much more work is needed and we need to build on the recent exiting range of commitments to strengthen and reform the out of home care sector. We encourage anyone who might be thinking of becoming a carer to find out more information or to come in and have a chat to one of the many friendly and dedicated staff members at GCH.
In Victoria, it is estimated that nearly 10,000 children currently live in out of home care. About 40% are in foster care, 48% in relative/kinship care and the rest in other forms of home based care. In Australia over 45,000 children live in out of home care and this number continues to rise.
About 40% of those in out of home care have been in that system for 5 years or more. As a community, we have a responsibility to provide care for our most vulnerable and the need for Carers has never been greater. We encourage people, who might have thought about fostering, to take that first step and to find out more.
As a local carer recently said “I was unsure about my ability to be a carer and the extra demands that would come along with it, however after over 15 years of being a foster carer I wouldn’t change a thing. The experience has been so rewarding and the kids in my care have provided me with memories and experiences I will cherish forever” they also went on to say “I encourage anyone who might be thinking of being a foster carer to contact your local agency and to find out more”.