Australia

Homeless get access to Victorian aged-care facilities to recover from coronavirus

A homeless man sleeps in the sunshine along the Yarra River as cold weather hits Melbourne. Source: AAP

Homeless people will be able to shelter or recover from the coronavirus in repurposed Victorian aged-care sites as the state government steps up efforts to protect rough sleepers.

Rough sleepers who need to shelter or recover from the coronavirus pandemic have been handed a lifeline in Victoria. 

The state government will use four pop-up sites to provide those experiencing homelessness a safe haven in repurposed aged-care facilities. 

It's the latest in a series of efforts from authorities across Australia to protect people at "greater risk" of contracting the illness because they can't self-isolate or quarantine.  

A homeless man holds a cup as he begs in Melbourne.
A homeless man holds a cup as he begs in Melbourne.
AAP

The Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) Jenny Smith said the access to temporary isolated shelter and medical support would help save lives.

"The overwhelming advice during this pandemic has been to stay at home to prevent spreading the virus," she said. 

"For those sleeping rough, this is impossible."

The state government will pour $8.8 million into the four pop-up sites to provide health care and supported accommodation for those in need.

More than 200 rough sleepers are expected to go through the inner Melbourne sites over the next six months.

The locations in inner Melbourne will be operated by Anglicare Victoria, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Launch Housing, Sacred Heart Mission and VincentCare Victoria.

A homeless woman sits on a street corner in central Brisbane.
A homeless woman sits on a street corner in central Brisbane.
AAP

Eligible homeless people need to have been tested for COVID-19 and be awaiting results, or tested positive, or need to self-isolate.

Others who have been discharged from hospital and need a place to recover from the virus will also have access.

Victorian Housing Minister Richard Wynne said the sites would help homeless people to stay safe during the pandemic.

"People without secure accommodation are at greater risk of contracting coronavirus because they can't self-isolate or quarantine," he said. 

"This will help keep them safe and slow the spread of virus."

A man is seen sleeping in a bus shelter outside the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney.
A man is seen sleeping in a bus shelter outside the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney.
AAP

The support adds to $6 million in extra funding from Victoria to assist service providers to also move homeless people into motels. 

In NSW, the state government has directed $34 million towards boosting temporary accommodation and rental assistance.

This includes booking an extra 300 hotel and motel rooms to house people who are homeless.

Queensland has committed $24.7 million towards its response effort and the SA  government has also vowed to accommodate rough sleepers in motels during the pandemic. 

In Western Australia, advocates are calling on the state government to immediately expand an accommodation trial for the homeless.

The state government is trialling voluntary accommodation for 20 rough sleepers at the Pan Pacific hotel.

"The state government is monitoring the outcomes from the pilot project closely and will make a decision about whether it is scaled up using the evidence collected," a state government spokesperson said.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch