Community combines to assist homelessness

Homelessness is becoming an increasingly challenging issue locally with a number of organisations in Yarrawonga Mulwala coming together to discuss how they can work collaboratively to combat the situation.

Representatives from a broad range of organisations including Yarrawonga Mulwala Community Learning Centre (YMCLC), MHA Care, Uniting Care Goulburn North East, Yarrawonga Health, BeyondHousing, Uniting Church Yarrawonga, Moira Shire and Yarrawonga Police attended a discussion group at the YMCLC recently to brainstorm on everyone working together for a common goal.

Significance of the situation began after a status was posted to the Yarrawonga and surrounds Noticeboard Facebook page by a concerned resident about the issue of homelessness in town and a small group of community members decided they needed to try to assist.

The small group have been meeting for about a month lead by Amber Gower who organised the discussion meeting through YMCLC Executive Officer Julie-Anne Clarke.

Amber presented a PowerPoint to the organisations on what the initial group is hoping organisations would be able to assist with and what the community is dealing with in terms of the homelessness and their living situations.

A comment that was made by a representative also iterated that “In Yarrawonga there is a large degree of ‘homeless’ within the home. People who still have a roof over their head but are struggling to pay certain bills or buy groceries to feed the family.”

“The scope of what we are wanting to do is to assist with the immediate need of people struggling but we also want to get things rolling for long term assistance which is why we wanted to get all of these local organisations together,” Amber said.

“There is currently five people living down at the river off Brear’s and Cullen’s roads but that is always changing. The ages also vary.

“We are looking at what can be done in terms of shower facilities, somewhere for those suffering to put their belongings away during the day if they work or are away from their site as well as the purchase of a portable soup kitchen to provide hot meals.”

A matter of weeks ago Amber set up a GoFundMe to raise money to buy the bare necessities for those living down at the river but that in itself can create issues.

After some advice, Amber approached YMCLC Executive Officer Julie-Anne Clarke who firstly suggested the GoFundMe be organised through YMCLC to be more legible.

“There is a lot of work happening in the background,” Julie-Anne said.

“Amber came to us for advice on where to go from what the group was already doing and we initially thought to save them any issues, the GoFundMe can be distributed through YMCLC.

“Additionally we arranged a meeting for them to meet with established, local welfare agencies to get together and brainstorm what next steps are required.

“There are a number of established organisations and groups in town doing what they can to assist, and the meeting will now ensure each of them work collaboratively to achieve the one united goal to provide assistance where it is needed in a timely and efficient manner.

“It was clear by the end of the meeting that ‘We are better together’.

“An event called the Yarrawonga Reconnect Luncheon is organised to be held on Friday, July 8 from 11.30am to 2pm at the Yarrawonga Senior Citizens Hall – 23 Hovel Street.

“The purpose of the event is to engage with people who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless, and those who are experiencing isolation and loneliness.

“The idea is to bring people and services together to ‘take a seat at the table’ and join discussions on the needs and wants of those attending. It is also an opportunity for service providers to network.

“The luncheon will provide a three-course lunch, a range of providers including Services Australia and a local hairdresser will be present as well as a range of winter clothes and food hampers for people to take at no cost.”

Another suggestion at the meeting for the luncheon was for a health professional to also be in attendance to provide blood screenings etc so those who are struggling with homelessness are able to receive basic medical attention.

The group of local organisations will continue to meet and brainstorm ways to work together to assist those suffering so keep an eye out around town and keep up to date with the Yarrawonga Chronicle for further developments.