URGENT action and more resources are needed to tackle Ballarat’s increasing homelessness, according to the city’s leading welfare workers.
Manager of Anglicare for Western Victoria Geoff Ryan called for more preventative support to be implemented to break the cycle of poverty.
Mr Ryan told The Courier many people who were experiencing homelessness were not only sleeping in their cars but also pitching tents and swags in the city’s forests and parkland.
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“It’s not just accommodation that’s an issue, it’s about finding a place to stay where people feel safe,” Mr Ryan said.
“Many people who are experiencing homelessness have been abused, they have been attacked. They have been subjected to years of pain and the whole idea of living at home is not a nice one. It is a much bigger issue than simply poverty.”
He said there were others who hid in streets behind buildings – anywhere they could find shelter for the night.
Mr Ryan said Anglicare held a breakfast four times a week for people who are experiencing homelessness but there was a pressing need for more funding to cater to the demand.
“If we have more funding a lot more support could be provided,” he said.
“It’s not simply about a lack of housing, it’s about addressing the social issues impacting these people.”
Mr Ryan said there was also desperate need for more safe emergency accommodation.
“There is no easy fix,” he said. “There is increasing pressure on community caused by lack of resources, a need for more community cohesion and a lack of jobs in the region.”
He said there was a need for more funding from state and federal governments to be given to the city’s welfare agencies so they could establish more preventative action.
“It’s about getting to the heart of the issue before it gets out of control and the person is in a position where they are homeless,” Mr Ryan said.