What the experts say
May 23, 2008 · Print This Article
Experts are anticipating the results; the first data they will have that accurately depicts the amount of homeless on Melbourne’s streets.
We ask two experts what they think about the street count, and how we can stop homelessness.
Sherri Bruinhout is manager of Front Yard, the youth division of Melbourne City Mission, who provide services to those under 25 who are at risk of homelessness.
Steve Perrson is CEO of the Big Issue magazine, which provides self-employment opportunities for the homeless and long-term unemployed.
Why do people become homeless?
Steve Persson: “It’s the reasons that go back to family, it goes back to drugs, it goes back to a whole range of potential problems that I guess we’re all so very familiar with.”
Sherri Bruinhout: “Homelessness happens when families break down.”
What do you think the street count will reveal?
Sherri Bruinhout: “It’s going to be really interesting. There’s been street count in Adelaide and there’s another one coming up in Sydney. We’re really keen to get involved and we’re one of the partners on that. I’m actually really not sure, I think that it’s exciting because it’s benchmarking street homelessness in the city and we really haven’t had that before. We have homelessness in the census but it’s very hard to get people who are sleeping rough to participate in things like [the] census.
“I’m quite apprehensive because I think it’s going to be quite shocking what we find and I think that we should be shocked and we should be really appalled by what we find in the census”.
Do you think homelessness is an increasing problem or is it on the decline?
Sherri Bruinhout: “With the American sub-prime loan debacle, that’s having a trickle effect all across the world. The effect is that rents are increasing in Melbourne, the interest rates are going up significantly and that’s having a follow-on effect with real estate, with private accommodation.”
“So a young person on Youth Allowance, by the time they’ve paid for an average sized rental property in Melbourne, they have less than $10 a day to live on and we just find that that’s not a viable option for young people, if they were to be successful for applying for a rental property anyway which is just not happening, the market’s too tight.”
Steve Perrson: “I’ve got a very unhappy feeling that we’ll see a rise, I think the pressure on housing is going to increase I think the gap between those people that can afford housing and the housing costs is going to mean that we’re going to see an increased number.”
“I know that there’s a number of great works to try and stem that and I can only hope it’ll be successful but I have a really uneasy feeling that we’re going to see an increase.”
Is there a solution to homelessness?
Sherri Bruinhout: “I don’t think that we can stop people from being homeless…I think we can aim to stop people having to sleep on the streets when they’re homeless, I think that we can aim to getting a really good solution to people’s homelessness, but I think what most people can do is if you can see someone, if you see a friend in trouble, if you see a family in trouble that you know, offer some sort of support or information.”
Steve Persson: “I think the range of strategies that they’re talking about to increase homes for homeless people is a key to it, you know, you’ve got to provide shelter to people and that’s one of the cores of anything, but I’d like to see a variety of solutions rather than a one size fits all.”
“I’d like to see a range of social ventures like the Big Issue established that people can engage in, in a business sense. I’d like to see case management and welfare services increased absolutely and better targeted, but I’d like to see a little bit more variety, I’d like to see something creative, and I’d like to see some business solutions to a social problem.”
|Download Steve Perrson, CEO of Big Issue magazine.||Download Sherri Bruinhout, General Manager of Frontyard.|