Page 1135 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 30 March 2011

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I am sure that some of you think that I carry on a little too much about the homeless situation in the ACT. Until you work in a job like mine, the ‘Homeless of Canberra’ are an invisible population, that most do not know that they exist. But unfortunately they do. The other day I was going through the stats for SJC for January and February of this year and one of the stats that leapt off the page was the number of homeless people we had seen. We normally [have] the homeless more than once in [a] month, as they are always in need of extra support. Sleeping bags and clothes, particularly shoes and socks get wet in the rain and need to be replaced, and of course they can only carry a small amount of food at one time. You would be surprised by the number of casseroles we reheat for the clients in a week. Back to the stats. In January we saw eight different homeless people, February we saw fifteen and already this month we have seen twelve. The numbers just continue to grow.

In November the ACT Government established First Point. “First Point is to provide a single access point to the ACT Homeless ensuring that clients do not have to make multiple calls to get the services they need. The service will place clients in accommodation and support vacancies in the ACT homelessness service system as well as facilitate access to other support mechanisms such as financial material aid”.

The people who are running First Point are good people and they are trying to do the best possible with the resources they have, but recently they released a report to say that they have not been able to provide accommodation for twenty couples with children (of which three families are in cars); five couples (no children but maybe pregnant); twelve men with children; one hundred and eight women with children; sixty four single men; forty eight single women; eleven young men under eighteen years; and one young woman under eighteen.

I can assure you that this is just the tip of the iceberg. People who are new to Canberra are not even eligible to go on the waiting lists. Winter is just around the corner. I worry about what is going to happen to those who have no accommodation. They may be invisible but they are there.

My wish list for this week: Shelter for the Homeless, packets of cup-a-soup, tinned meat dishes and casseroles and tinned spaghetti.

Many Thanks,

Sue Jordan, Director.

I wanted to get that on the record and to pay tribute to Sue Jordan and all the other people at St Johns Care who do that work and all of the other people, whether it be St Vincent de Paul or any number of charities in the ACT, who do an extraordinary job working on homelessness, working with homeless people and working to provide the kind of the support that they need for what is a hidden problem but, unfortunately, a bigger problem than we would like to be the case.

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Hargreaves): Before we continue, Mr Coe, I noticed just a moment ago that you seemed to be checking a voicemail message on

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