Linking Communities Network Ltd (LCN), in partnership with Griffith City Council and Family and Community Services (FACS) today held a Homelessness Week campaign along Banna Avenue to coincide with Homelessness Week – from August 6 to 12.
The middle block of Banna Avenue was lined with four couches to illustrate to passers-by the homeless issue in Griffith.
Deputy CEO Linking Communities Network Ltd Kirrilly Salvestro said the campaign is to raise awareness of the homeless issue in NSW, Griffith, and the wider region.
“Homelessness Week is a chance for us to connect with decision makers and make sure our voices are being heard in Parliament, and for people to realise how tough the times are in rural communities,” Mrs Salvestro said.
This year’s theme, Ending Homelessness Together, is something the partnership is working towards.
A number of Griffith’s homeless gave their stories for the campaign, and shared photographs to convey how they spend a typical day, whether it be at friends’ houses, fast food restaurants, or at the railway lines.
Senior Project Officer Estate Management Unit Wendy McPherson said, “People don’t realise in Griffith there are a lot of homeless people – we don’t see people sleeping on the street every night.
“It’s a bit of a hidden story,” Ms McPherson said.
“The stories complement the photos and identify some of the reasons why [it is hidden] and why those people are in the condition they’re in.”
Mrs Salvestro said the places photographed may be ones commonly chosen by the homeless.
“You might notice Jayden* spends a lot of time at McDonald’s,” she said.
When asked why couches were used for the campaign, Mrs Salvestro said, “We have a lot of couch surfers in Griffith.”
“Homelessness doesn’t always mean people living on the streets – it means couch surfers, staying with relatives, in over-crowded properties, at the railways lines, or in tents.”
Mrs Salvestro said the goal of the campaign is to get the community reading the stories to learn more about the issue and create conversation.
“Linking Communities Network is the lead homelessness agency in western Murrumbidgee. If clients contact us or we become aware that someone’s homeless, they can come and we can offer support to get housing,” Mrs Salvestro said.
“But, housing stock in Griffith is very limited – with less than one percent rentals, so it’s extremely hard for people to find long-term, safe housing solutions.”
“Some people have come to town and can’t find housing, or have jobs but can’t find anywhere to live. There are people with drugs and alcohol issues, domestic and family violence – it’s varied.”
Linking Communities Network’s statistics revealed in the 2017/2018 period 657 people were homeless in Griffith.
Homelessness facts and stats:
- There were 37,715 people in NSW in the Census who are classified as being homeless on Census night 2016 (up 37% from 27,479 in 2011).
- The homeless rate in NSW was 50 persons for every 10,000 persons in the 2016 Census, (up 5% from the 48 persons in 2011)
- 2,278 Aboriginal people were recorded as homeless in NSW in 2016, an increase of 3% from 2011
- 2016/17 approximately 74,000 clients were supported by homelessness services in NSW (43% increase since 2013/14, 6% increase since 2015/16)
A second campaign will be held Friday August 10, 1pm at 177 Yambil Street, and will be attended by Member for Murray Austin Evans.
*Names changed to protect identities.