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
No fixed address?
People who are homeless now have the opportunity to have a say in electing the next government thanks to an initiative of the Victorian Electoral commission supported by Grampians Community Health. Kathy Day, General Manager of People and Community Support with Grampians Community Health said that “the ‘no fixed address’ option now available gives the opportunity to people experiencing homelessness to participate in their right to vote, and not receive a fine.”
Grampians Community Health, have helped hundreds of people experiencing homelessness in our communities for the past 24 years. We all want to feel safe and have a place to live. As we go through life, sometimes we find ourselves in situations we did not plan.
“People do not choose to be in a situation where they are homeless and having to struggle with the harshness of not having a safe place to live”, said Kathy Day
The Victorian Electoral Commission option of using ‘no fixed address’ is a welcome improvement because it is important that everyone can exercise their democratic right to vote. Local, state and federal governments make decisions that affect people who are experiencing homelessness.
“Giving people the right to participate assists them to feel part of the community” said Gemma Homelessness and Family Violence Support Worker at Grampians Community Health.
People experiencing homelessness can use ‘no fixed address’ when using services at Grampians Community Health, when they go to doctors, dealing with Centrelink or the Department Health and Human Services, registering with employment agencies, at neighbourhood houses and real estates. These organisations can recognise homelessness as an issue and do their best to adapt to people’s needs. Grampians Community Health assists people by offering to use our location as a mailing address.
“It’s every person’s right to access services and take part in democratic processes. To be able to assist people to do this regardless of their circumstances is something GCH is always pleased to help with” said Gemma.
You can find printed copies of the ‘no fixed address enrolment’ form at Grampians Community Health and anyone wishing to access any of our services can easily do so by calling 5358 7400.
For more information about how we can help you, call us on 03 5358 7400 or read more about our services.