Social welfare leaders and health services are working to ensure no one is left out of Ballarat's COVID-19 pandemic response.
People experiencing homelessness and housing crisis rolled up their sleeves to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at Uniting Ballarat on Tuesday.
Ballarat Community Health administered the COVID-19 vaccine to 71 people at Uniting's emergency relief centre as part of its High Risk Accommodation Response program.
Marina Henning was sleeping rough at the beginning of the year, moving between a swag and motel rooms, before she was offered long-term housing.
She received her first round of the vaccination on Tuesday and volunteered to work in a peer support role to help other people receiving their jab.
I was a bit anxious and unsure how to go about getting the vaccine until my worker from Uniting called me and booked me in.Marina Henning
Ms Henning said it was fantastic to receive a call from her Uniting case worker offering the chance to be vaccinated on site.
"I was a bit anxious and unsure how to go about getting the vaccine until my worker from Uniting called me and booked me in," she said.
"I probably wouldn't have got the vaccination otherwise.
"It has been great. I am happy I have got it done."
Ms Henning said she had helped some people who felt anxious or unsure about receiving the vaccine in her peer support role on Tuesday.
"Some people that had said no have now said yes, so that is good," she said.
Uniting Ballarat senior manager homelessness Adam Liversage said the program set an example of what Ballarat could do to make sure no one missed out on being vaccinated.
"It is great to see vulnerable people in our community coming in today to get the job done," he said.
People received their vaccine from the emergency relief centre before coming down the lift to recover in the BreezeWay meals program centre.
Meals were on offer in takeaway form from the site during the later period of vaccination bookings.
People could also access shower and hygiene facilities and housing support if required.
Uniting Street 2 Home team leader Stacey Park said it was important to offer the vaccination service at the Uniting location rather than direct people experiencing disadvantaged to the mass vaccination hub.
"People experiencing homelessness might not have internet access or phone access. It is quite a long process and appointment times are blowing out," she said.
"Transport is also an issue so we were able to get taxi cards to help get people here."
RELATED COVERAGE: We need to target the most vulnerable for vaccines | Opinion
Ballarat Community Health High Risk Accommodation Response manager Janine Hourigan said vulnerable people were at high risk of catching and spreading COVID-19.
She said staff had been visiting other settings like supported accommodation to provide one-on-one education about hygiene and restrictions, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.
She said many people otherwise struggled to keep up with information and may not have the ability to read advice.
"We have spent a lot of time talking one-on-one to people to make sure they understand how to protect themselves and how to protect the community," Ms Hourigan said.
"When we have gone into high risk accommodation, we found a bit of hesitancy when it comes to vaccinations.
"The more we have been back to talk about being prepared, what you need to do, infection control and how beneficial the vaccination might be, we have found people have been more willing to have the vaccination."
Ms Hourigan said building trust and bringing the service to the people was key to making sure no one was left behind in the vaccination roll-out.
"It is saying to the people we will come to you, we will help you, we will make it easier for you, rather than saying go down to a big hub and line up," she said.
"We are coming to people who may not be able to get to places or book the appointments. It is about making sure we are there for them and making it easier for them."
Ms Park said the lack of affordable, long-term, stable housing was a big issue throughout the pandemic, as people experiencing homelessness did not have a safe place to isolate or live during lockdown periods.
"When COVID hit, we were placing everybody in hotels so they could isolate and stay safe," she said.
Ms Henning said being given the opportunity to live in secure, long-term housing was a 'godsend' as it was difficult surviving the pandemic without a place to call home.
"It wasn't easy. You were sleeping in a swag some days and then in a motel other days. You don't know who has been around or what is happening around," she said.
"Housing has changed my life in a lot of ways.
"I have now got somewhere secure and safe that is mine. I can just get on with my life and go back to being normal. I can have a garden and do things everyone should be able to do."
Have you signed up to The Courier's variety of news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.