Homelessness on the Rise in Melbourne
Ali Raza | On 03, Jul 2018
In a survey conducted in June of this year, it was found that 400 individuals were sleeping rough in inner-city Melbourne.
Though this already depicts a harsh, despondent reality for hundreds of Australians, chief executive Jenny Smith of The Council to Homeless Persons explains that the figure above only shows us a fraction of those who are suffering through the same circumstances statewide. Statistics show that a whopping 105,000 Australians asked for assistance from myriad homelessness services in 2017 alone, and sadly, one in three were rejected due to a lack of resources. Considering Victoria’s soaring housing prices coupled with a severe lack of employment opportunities for an area that is experiencing rapid population growth, the figures are sadly not surprising.
Similarly, the government’s recent changes to Centrelink’s Newstart Allowance, a payment given to those who are in need of both economic support and assistance in regards to finding a job, is adding to the rise in homelessness significantly. While Australian citizens are made to wait a minimum of one month to receive support, newly arrived migrants must wait a whopping 104 weeks, or two years, to receive benefits. If a month can be the difference between a person being able to pay their rent in between jobs, the potential ramifications of a two-year waiting period are incredibly severe.
Though some people might believe that a large number of homeless people are forced to sleep on the streets, this is not quite the case. A significant number of homeless Victorians are sleeping in their cars, many of which are students who do not have ample time to work and become economically stable.
There is also a strong link between homelessness and mental health issues. With increased funding to the mental healthcare sector, it would be much easier for an individual who is suffering from any given mental health issue to receive appropriate medication, develop coping tactics and have access to ongoing therapy sessions. Thankfully, the 2018 federal budget of Australia stated that 338.1 million dollars would be invested into the nation’s mental healthcare system over four years.
In early 2017, the then lord mayor Robert Doyle suggested that the state government ban homelessness in the lead up to the internationally recognised Australian Open. This idea was met with much criticism, and now, the Victorian Labor party headed by Daniel Andrews have opted to develop 290,000 affordable estates in greater Melbourne. Since 2014, the government has also offered a total of one-billion dollars towards helping the homeless, which is welcome news.
If you are wondering how you might be able to assist in the fight against homelessness in Melbourne, you can simply visit the City of Melbourne’s community page for specific information regarding ways in which you can volunteer, donate money or donate various items.