The combined health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted just how important having a home is to our health and wellbeing.
Homelessness services across the country were already “stretched to the seams,” before the pandemic says Homelessness NSW CEO Katherine McKernan.
But the pandemic has brought on new challenges. In the first week following the introduction of the COVID-19 restrictions, as many as 780,000 Australians lost their jobs. Treasury expects unemployment, currently at 5.2 per cent, to hit 10 per cent in the June quarter, which will place further financial pressure on the one million low income Australian households already experiencing rental stress.
Now, more than ever, organisations which work to support people who are homeless need your help.
"We are already seeing a trickle of new faces accessing support services and food vans and emergency accommodation," says Pastor Jon Owen, CEO of Sydney’s Wayside Chapel. "So far, many are international students and migrant workers suddenly without an income," he says.
“I don’t know how much longer working-class Aussies who are barely surviving on the breadline are going to be able to hold out.”
Organisations like Wayside Chapel and Salvation Army rely on donations to fund their work.
Organisations like Wayside Chapel and Salvation Army rely on donations to fund their work.
“Without the generous support of the Australian public, we would not be able to continue to run our vast network of social services, which helps over one million Australians every year,” says Salvation Army spokesperson Mitchell Ryan.
"Handing money to someone on the street is helpful, and provides temporary relief, but donating to an organisation means your money goes further in supporting the most vulnerable people in society," says Ryan.
"That donation could be used to pay for a number of people’s accommodation, or connect someone with their family or loved one, or provide necessary school equipment for a young person who is homeless."
Other organisations such as End Street Sleeping advocate for change by bringing together organisations and tackling systemic causes of homelessness.
How you can help
Get involved with some of the organisations supporting our most vulnerable.
In the community
The St Vincent De Paul Society
St Vincent De Paul Society has more than 60,000 members and volunteers across Australia, working to combat social injustice and assist people facing disadvantage. Vinnies offers everything from homeless services to refugee assistance; from support for those living with a mental illness to employment services for people with disabilities. Vinnies is able to do this thanks to the generous support of the public, through Vinnies Shops, and much more. Find out how you can help by visiting their website.
On June 18, business and community leaders across Australia will take part in the first online Vinnies CEO Sleepout, hosted by Dr Andrew Rochford. The 2019 CEO Sleepout raised $7.9 million for Vinnies’ homelessness services across Australia, which funded the provision of hot meals, medical treatment and life skills programs to people in need. Find out more at www.ceosleepout.org.au.
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, one of the largest social welfare organisations in Australia, provides crisis accommodation and affordable housing for low income earners. The service aims to create an environment of dignity and respect to empower people to embrace positive change in their lives. You can find The Salvation Army in city streets, on rural farms, and in suburban centres, bringing hope where it’s needed most. For more information, head to salvos.org.au or call 13 SALVOS.
Sydney’s Wayside Chapel provides outreach programs to support those dealing with addiction, referrals for short and long-term crisis accommodation and housing, weekly legal, health and counselling clinics, not to mention running cafes in Bondi Beach and Kings Cross that provide low-cost meals. To ensure Wayside Chapel is able to keep their doors open, you can sign up to volunteer, join their Inner Circle or donate. The organisation is also accepting donations of clean, warm clothing, shoes, towels and blankets, as well as new items, in preparation for winter.
End Street Sleeping
End Street Sleeping is a collaboration between the Institute of Global Homelessness, City of Sydney, NSW Government and the sector’s leading NGOs to end street sleeping. Announced by Premier Gladys Berejiklian in 2019, End Street Sleeping aims to reduce rough sleeping in the City of Sydney and NSW by 50 per cent by 2025, with a view to eradicating it all together. Skye Leckie, who appeared on Filthy Rich and Homeless in 2019, is an advocate. Find out more about the joint initiative at its website.
Australian Red Cross
The Australian Red Cross believes that everyone deserves a home that is safe, secure and affordable. In an average year, Red Cross helps 2180 people to find housing, supports 1360 people at risk of becoming homeless, and provides 43,400 meals to people experiencing hardship. You can find more information on their website.
Mission Australia is a national non-denominational Christian charity that helps Australians move towards independence. Their work to reduce homelessness includes specialist support services that enable people to avoid and escape homelessness, crisis and transitional accommodation and social and affordable housing. To donate, visit their website or call 1800 88 88 68.
Dignity is a charity that seeks to empower individuals who are experiencing homelessness. The organisation is guided by two core beliefs: that every person should be treated with dignity, and together we can end homelessness. Visit the Dignity website for more information about its unique approach.
Launch Housing is a Melbourne-based community agency providing housing, support, education and employment services. They are currently delivering care packages to people sleeping rough. Donate here.
Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) is one of Australia’s leading refugee legal centres providing free, specialist legal assistance for financially disadvantaged and vulnerable people seeking asylum and family reunion. RACS relies on donations, grants and pro-bono support to operate. More information can be found on their website.
Pets in the Park
Pets in the Park (PITP) aims to support, build relationships with and improve the wellbeing of homeless people in society living with animal companions. Much-loved pets play a significant role in the lives of many people who are experiencing homelessness but caring for them comes with a hefty financial cost. PITP runs pet-care clinics that offer services such as health checks, vaccination, and flea and worm treatment. Find information about how to volunteer or donate to Pets in the Park.
Since 1979 Yfoundations has been the NSW peak body representing young people who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Yfoundations runs a series of programs aimed at young people, including Sticky Stuff, a one-day session on sexual health, and the Juvenile Justice Project, which looks at the link between children exiting justice institutions and homelessness. Visit the website for more information.
Southern Youth and Family Services
Southern Youth and Family Services (SYFS) is an independent community-based charity based in southern NSW. SYFS provides support and assistance to people aged between 12 and 24 and other disadvantaged groups at particular risk of homelessness. Visit the SYSF website to find out more about the service’s important work.
Youth Off The Streets
Founded by Father Chris Riley, Youth Off The Streets helps disadvantaged young people who may be homeless, drug dependent and/or recovering from abuse to turn their lives around. Donate here.
Frontyard Youth Services
On any given night, as many as 6000 young people in Victoria are homeless. Frontyard Youth Services, part of Melbourne City Mission, runs programs for young people aged between 12 and 24 to help them find pathways out of homelessness. Find out more at the website.
Brisbane Youth Service
Brisbane Youth Service, which has its headquarters in Fortitude Valley, helps homeless and disadvantaged young people with housing, emergency relief, heath services and advocacy. Check BYS’s donated items wish list and find out more about its programs at www.brisyouth.org.
Kids Under Cover
Kids Under Cover provides young people at risk of homelessness the foundations to strengthen their connection to family, community, and education. They support vulnerable and disadvantaged young people between the ages of 12 and 25 years, who are either already homeless or at risk of homelessness. Studio accommodation is placed in the backyards of homes providing a secure and stable space for young people at risk of homelessness and scholarships are provided to keep young people connected to education or training.
Lifeline provides around the clock support for people in crisis, with a 24-hour hotline and suicide prevention services. Visit the website to find out how you can donate or volunteer, or call 131 114 for immediate support.
Beyondblue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live. They equip Australians with the knowledge and skills to protect their own mental health and give people the confidence to make anxiety, depression and suicide part of everyday conversations. As well as tackling stigma, prejudice and discrimination, beyondblue is breaking down the barriers that prevent people from speaking up and reaching out.
Established in Melbourne in 1986, Neami is a community-based organisation that provides services to improve mental health and wellbeing in local communities. Its mental health support and specialist homelessness services operates using a 'housing first' approach that focuses on helping people secure long-term housing and providing them with ongoing assistance to remain in a residence. Learn more about Neami’s specialist services here.
Advocating for change
Homelessness Australia is the peak national body advocating for the country's homeless. While they don't provide direct accommodation or client services, they work with a range of organisations for a unified response to homelessness, and provide links to services around the country. If you are experiencing homelessness, you can find more information on where to seek help on their website.
Homelessness NSW is a peak not-for-profit organisation that works with its members to prevent and reduce homelessness across NSW. Its vision is for NSW to be a state where no one is either experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and there is affordable and safe housing for all with access to a range of community and support services. Learn more at Homelessness NSW’s website.
Council to Homeless Persons
The Council to Homeless Persons is the peak body representing organisations and individuals committed to ending homelessness in Victoria. Head to their website for the services available and how you can take action.
The Mercy Foundation
The Mercy Foundation is working towards systemic change to end homelessness. The Foundation funds and supports communities and organisations who are using effective housing related strategies to end people’s experience of homelessness. Head to their website for more information.
Shelter NSW is the peak housing policy and advocacy organisation in NSW. An independent organisation that promotes social justice, Shelter NSW is a partner of the Everybody's Home Campaign, which advocates for affordable and secure housing for all. Find out more at www.shelternsw.org.au.
A nation-wide campaign, Everybody’s Home is advocating for change to Australia’s housing system. Their national housing strategy includes better rights for renters, relief from chronic rental stress and a plan to end homelessness by 2030. Head to their website to take part in their campaign or to find out more information.
Domestic Violence NSW
Domestic and family violence is a key driver of homelessness in Australia. Domestic Violence NSW works with government and the social services sector to improve policy, legislative and program responses to domestic and family violence, (DFV) and to eliminate DFV through advocacy, partnerships and the promotion of good practice. DV NSW is not a direct support service but strives to help victims and survivors by supporting services and raising awareness of domestic and family violence in our communities. Find out more about the work DV NSW does at www.dvnsw.org.au.
Filthy Rich & Homeless Season 3 airs over three nights – June 9, 10 and 11 – on SBS at 8:30pm and SBS On Demand after broadcast.
Filthy Rich & Homeless Season 3 will also be subtitled in Simplified Chinese and Arabic and will be added to the subtitled collection on SBS On Demand, available immediately following its premiere on SBS. Last year SBS launched the Chinese and Arabic collections featuring a range of diverse dramas, documentaries and current affairs programs to enable growing multicultural communities to engage with local and international stories in their first language.