Everybody Needs a Home – and Australia needs a National Homelessness Strategy.

This week is #HW2020: Homelessness Week. The theme is Everybody Needs a Home. However as Melbourne goes into stage 4 lockdown, many don’t have a home to retreat to. Who is looking after those with no defence against winter, violence, hunger – let alone Coronavirus?

Mary’s House

At Fisher Leadership we know what it takes to make an impact in this difficult area. We are constantly in awe of the inspiring Not For Profit leaders who we support to take up positions in organisations tackling issues such as homelessness and domestic violence. Currently, we are seeking one such incredible individual to lead the organisation ‘Mary’s House‘, a domestic violence refuge located in Northern Sydney, NSW, that provides residential accommodation, professional case management and other professional services to support women and their children escaping domestic violence. If that sounds like you, please see the link to apply for the role of Chief Executive Officer.

Homelessness Heatmaps

Addressing the issue of homelessness and the impact of COVID, ProBono this week launched Homelessness Heatmaps to coincide with the start of #HW2020. The heatmaps highlight homelessness problems and social housing shortfalls in every federal electorate. Organisations are launching a renewed call for a National Strategy on homelessness.

Homelessness Australia chair Jenny Smith said the data showed that homelessness did not discriminate based on geographic location. 

“People often think homelessness is an issue mainly in cities and CBDs, but the maps show that to be a myth,” Smith said.

“The lack of housing that people can afford is not only the biggest cause of homelessness, but it also prevents people escaping from homelessness.” 

According to the data, Australia has a social housing shortfall of around 433,000 properties and about 116,000 people are homeless on any given night.

Older women, the fastest growing demographic to be homeless

Women over 55 are the fastest growing cohort of people facing homelessness in Australia. And sadly, the coronavirus is making the situation much worse.

In May, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) released a report on the Gendered Impact of COVID19, with a plan to mitigate the inevitable economic blow that women will face.

Many woman take on caring roles both professionally and outside of work, providing a selfless workforce keeping society ticking along, unpaid and often unappreciated.

As COVID requires so many rules to be rewritten, it is critical to ensure our most vulnerable are not falling through the cracks. Gandhi famously said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by how it treats its weakest member.” Coronavirus has shown us that we are only as healthy as the person next to us.

Homelessness is not a women’s issue. It is not a domestic violence issue. It is not a mental health issue. Everybody needs a home. And homelessness is everybody’s issue.

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