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They are also inextricably linked as two cycles that are both hard to overcome and comprehend. But they are something that, in reality, with an unfortunate change of circumstances could happen to any of us.
Churches of Christ in Queensland is committed to providing housing solutions for individuals and families facing housing stress and homelessness.
We house some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Queensland, with high levels of complex needs, and work in partnership with a number of specialist support services which assists us to support people to sustain their tenancies and get them to where they want to be in life.
General Manager Housing Services, Frances Paterson-Fleider expressed the importance of having a wide range of housing options to assist those experiencing hardship.
“We deliver a range of affordable housing options across the housing continuum from community housing programs through to affordable rental under the National Rental Affordability Scheme,” Frances said.
“There are many complex issues that can result in homelessness. These include domestic and family violence, financial crisis, long-term unemployment, economic and social exclusion, severe and persistent mental illness and psychological distress, compounded by the chronic shortage of affordable and available rental housing.
“We believe in a housing-first approach. When a person has their basic needs met, particularly a safe home, and if they have access to opportunities, then they can reflect on other aspects of their life and reach self-fulfilment.
“Safe, appropriate and affordable housing is a basic human right, and fundamental to individual, family and community wellbeing.”
Housing Services takes a unique and holistic approach in the delivery of support and care for residents. As well as providing for people’s physical needs, we recognise it is equally important to provide for social, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs.
Through Churches of Christ in Queensland’s self-funded community chaplaincy program, we provide additional wraparound support services to build people’s resilience.
Our Housing Chaplains are committed to ensuring tenants have their basic needs met, with chaplains providing assistance to those who need support, referring them to food banks for fresh fruit, vegetables and household staples and connecting them with training and employment opportunities.
Housing Chaplain Team Leader Murray Thomson, said there are many factors that lead to homelessness and poverty, providing people with safe, secure and affordable housing is part of the solution to ending homelessness.
“All types of life experiences have lead these people to a situation where they feel powerless to change their circumstance and are reliant on welfare which unfortunately, for a number of reasons, is set well below the poverty line,” Murray said.
“I believe that through the provision of safe and affordable housing, along with the community chaplaincy program, we are on the right track to giving people the time and space to address the issues that have caused their homelessness and consequent poverty.”
Murray also believes it is important to eliminate negative stigma surrounding people experiencing hardship.
“It is not an easy life living in a society that relies on consumption to keep its economy alive with all the advertising and ‘must have’ things that this demands when you are constantly having to make decisions about paying a bill or putting food on the table. They are excluded from our mainstream society in many ways,” he said.
“They often live with stigma and discrimination, which traps them in this situation with few really effective programs to help them heal from the trauma or provide inclusive environments to give them a hand up and back into mainstream society.”
During Homelessness Week (7-13 August), Housing Services staff and volunteers participated in Homeless Connect events in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, where they were able to provide people with toiletries generously donated by Bunzl Australasia.
While there are many paths that lead individuals and families to living in poverty, one clearly identified route to a life of homelessness and hardship is young people aged 15-25 who have grown up in the statutory care system.
The Youth CONNECT Social Benefit Bond takes steps to address this and help break the cycle of poverty and hardship for these incredibly vulnerable group of young people in our community.
“Within one year of exiting care, 35 per cent of these young people will be homeless, and more than 50 per cent will have experienced homelessness within five years,” Frances said.
“The program provides a housing-first approach to dealing with the complex needs these young people exiting statutory care and stepping into independence have. With safe and stable accommodation, they can then concentrate on attaining education and work goals, building their resilience and opportunities for success in their future lives.”
Over 15 – 21 October we will be marking Anti-Poverty Week. The week encourages Australians to organise or take part in an activity aiming to highlight or overcome issues of poverty and hardship here in Australia or overseas, and is an extension of the United Nations International Anti-Poverty Day on 17 October.
Poverty and severe hardship affect more than one million Australians, and around the world more than one billion people are desperately poor. For more information, go to antipovertyweek.org.au and find out how you can take part.