A FREE sausage sizzle held as part of National Homelessness Week provided the opportunity for the public to learn more about the reality of homelessness in the Gippsland region.
The barbecue was held by SalvoCare Eastern on Thursday, August 4 out the front of Big W in Wonthaggi, with team members on hand to discuss the real issue of homelessness with the public.
Veronica Ross, manager for Homelessness and Support at SalvoCare, said that the free sausage sizzle was designed to engage with people, get them talking, and to spread information and resources throughout the community.
“We find that a lot of the time people aren’t aware that homelessness is an issue unless it affects them directly.”
Homelessness Week is an annual themed week held in the first week of August to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness and the issues that they face.
“Today also provides an opportunity for us to speak to the community, to let people know that we are here if you need us and we can help you.”
At present, there are approximately 22,773 people experiencing homelessness in Victoria.
The main cause of homelessness in the state is due to financial difficulties, with up to 22 per cent of people made homeless through housing stress or unemployment.
Only three per cent of homeless people are living on the streets because of mental health or substance abuse issues.
People aged 25 to 34 are the most affected by homelessness, with approximately 4581 people living rough in Victoria.
SalvoCare Eastern provide a variety of services and support for people in need.
People experiencing homelessness or a housing crisis in the Gippsland region are able to access support through the Salvation Army GippsCare in Leongatha, where they may have access to temporary accommodation, support to secure accommodation, financial assistance and housing advice and referral.
Contact the Leongatha office on 5662 6400 for more information or to access support services.

City property buyers impact homeless rates

OFTEN perceived as a more ‘city’ issue, homelessness is becoming a prevalent issue in rural communities as city buyers/renters move to the country to seek cheaper housing.
This drives up rural prices, out of reach of our poorest.
Areas of the Bass Coast and South Gippsland shires are becoming more and more affected by homelessness, with approximately 700 homeless people from the Gippsland region, according to data from the 2011 Census.
Women aged over 55 were identified as an emerging demographic of the national homeless population, and 217 women were managed by the Family Violence outreach service during 2015/16.
In 2015/2016, SalvoCare Eastern assisted 1950 people with support related to their housing and provided case management support to 270 homeless people.
Couch surfing is the most common form of homelessness in Gippsland.
Homelessness Network coordinator Lisa Morgan said competition for regional rental properties had set pricing on a steady increase, and forced some people out of the market.
“What we’re finding is that because we’re getting seen as an affordable place to live, we’re seeing people come from outside the area looking for affordable housing options.”
Ms Morgan said the influx of Melbournians had particularly affected affordable property supply in Baw Baw, South Gippsland and Bass Coast local government areas, the parts of Gippsland most accessible to Melbourne.
“One of the areas that we’ve seen growth in people seeking homelessness support is in Baw Baw, and that’s because people who have traditionally grown up in that area can no longer afford the housing options there,” Lisa said.
SalvoCare Eastern covers Bass Coast and South Gippsland, and has a three day a week service available in Baw Baw assisting with initial assessment and planning.