Homelessness is not something most people believe they will ever experience but Gavin Bell, of the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast said: “The line between me, you and Sue (the homeless woman in Merimbula), is very thin. Many of us are potential cases.”How long a person or family can continue to pay their mortgage or rent if they or the main bread winner loses their job can be the defining time between normal life and homelessness.
There have been several studies suggesting many people are just two or pay cheques away from homelessness.
Sometimes though, homelessness is the end result of a series of negative events in a person’s life impacting their well-being and their financial stability, a complex interplay between individual circumstances and adverse factors outside their direct control.
Mr Bell said: “Redundancies, language barriers for migrants, violence in the home, workplace or on the streets, lack of educational opportunity, a car accident without insurance, mental health issues, substance abuse, bullying at school, work, or in the home, lack of finances, reductions to welfare budgets, contractions to local business effecting both the employees or other businesses relying on that business, government funding cuts and/or marriage breakdown affecting the adults and children, can all contribute to a person becoming homeless.”
The government funded not-for-profit organisation, Homelessness NSW says that homelessness is often perceived to be a metropolitan problem but that a significant proportion of the homeless are in regional, rural and remote Australia where there are fewer services available to assist them to resolve the issues leading to their homelessness.
Last year the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast ran the Samaritan op shop in Pambula with the aim of raising funds for local people in need of help. In addition to raising $55,000 the group was also given two caravans which are being used specifically as short-term crisis accommodation.
Mr Bell explained that it was important to firstly attend to the basic needs of shelter and food but that ultimately the original issues that resulted in a person becoming homeless situation had to be addressed.