Valley’s vulnerable need more than just shelter

RELATED COVERAGE: Homeless to hope

On any given night, 400 individuals and families from Bairnsdale to Warragul are homeless.

This week, Gippsland homelessness support providers are shining the spotlight on the large proportion of these people who have a roof over their head, but are in unsafe or insecure accommodation including boarding houses and the homes of friends or family.

“They might have shelter, but you wouldn’t say it’s their home,” Gippsland Homelessness Network coordinator Lisa Wilson said.

“Moving your belongings from one space to another is not easy.

“We want to make sure people within Gippsland understand there are people who are homeless and they are no longer the traditional (type of homeless).”

Ms Wilson said the highest proportion of locals seeking homelessness support were women who were victims of family violence.

Youth homelessness is becoming an increasing concern for support workers, with Quantum Support helping more than 160 15 to 24 year-olds in the Latrobe and Baw Baw areas who were either homeless or at risk in the last financial year.

On census night in 2011, more than 1000 Gippslanders were reported as homeless, and more than 200 were sleeping rough, but service providers estimate the real figures could be up to three times those reported.

“If we built 7000 homes in Victoria tomorrow, we still wouldn’t address the level of homelessness,” Ms Wilson said. As part of Homeless Persons’ Week, support workers are taking part in the ‘Anywhere but a Bed’ initiative tonight, which encourages people to sleep on the couch, in a shed, tent, caravan or the backyard to experience the discomfort and uncertainty that goes with homelessness.

A barbecue will kick off the event at 5.30pm at the combined schools performance hall, McDonald Way, Morwell. Quantum Support Services will also hold a community awareness stall at Mid Valley Shopping Centre today from 10am to 4pm and on Thursday in Smith Street, Warragul. To register for the Anywhere but a Bed initiative, visit